Thursday, June 30, 2011

Israel, Day #9? Yup.

Day 9. 
We slept in.  At least it felt like it.  Last night the dogs slept on the porch protecting us and barking that they were still there throughout the night.  We slept in until 8 (the same time we have been getting us these last few days) and lounged around.  The goat farm people brought us the tools to make breakfast and we started getting ready.  We waited for Arthur (whose alarm did not go off on time) and then I made scrambled eggs with cheese and salami left over from last night.  Yum.  Then we were off. 
First stop was in Avdat.  It was a city with a few villas during the ... it’s not Napoleon, but something else that started with an N and from the same time period as Petra.  I'll find out later.  Napatean, maybe, something like that.  Must be.  I'll go with that and maybe I will look it up later, maybe not.  Anyway.  They built their city on a mountain (like they do) and hid their water source so that if they were attacked the opposing army would die out because it was in the desert.  Friendly folk.  The Romans eventually conquered them as history goes.  The Romans then built a huge fort.  The Napatean stuff was stronger than the Roman and survived better.  More of their structures were more intact than the Roman.  The Napatean's also carved their houses into the mountain and into the rock so it was cooler in the summer (like now) and then warmer in the winter, from the warmth of the Earth.
For lunch we had more leftover food from dinner and breakfast.  We ate at a gas station on the side of the ride towards Tel Aviv. 
The last stop, before the hotel, was Machon Ayalon.  Here is the full story.  There was a kibbutz at the site that was used to train people how to start their own kibbutzim and understand agriculture.  So people transitioned through it on a regular basis.  A very important guy brought over unused ammunition equipment in 1938 from Poland, right before WWII started.  Then in 1945, right after WWII ended they set up shop to start manufacturing 9mm bullets underneath the kibbutz and right underneath the noses of the British.  So every morning 45 workers climbed into the basement underneath the laundry and made a ton of noise.  So to keep the excuse for laundry going, they had a laundry service that was based in the city; they even washed the British uniforms, sometimes with intelligence still in their pockets.  Real smart.  Since people transitioned out of the kibbutz every month or so, no one was there long enough to get wise and understand what was happening.  They made over 4 million bullets over the next 3 years.  It was a completely secret operation, not even the government knew they were doing it or where.  It was the difference between winning the Independence War (which they obviously did) and not.  After they declared independence, the machines were brought up from underground and taken to Tel Aviv to continue, but no longer a secret.  It was wonderful.

We arrived back in Tel Aviv tonight and checked in.  Duh.  Then we went swimming in the Mediterranean Sea.  Matt was happy.  Then it was goodbye to Arthur. :(  Our rooms were upgraded, we didn't do it, and so we had access to the lounge and had snacks there, which ruined our dinner.  We walked down the beach towards Old Yafo (Jaffa) and wandered around.  Still not hungry we came back to the hotel.  Unfortunately, this brought us to the end of this trip.  We packed our suitcases - one for Rome and one going home with my parents.  And said our goodnights and goodbyes. 

Tomorrow we are sleeping in (until 9!!!!) and then having breakfast and going to the airport.  Then we are flying to ROMA!!!!!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Israel, Day #8

We met Arthur for breakfast and then we began our nature day (this is Arthur's specialty, aside from the desert).  We went snorkeling at Coral Beach.  It was not the most spectacular snorkeling I have ever seen, but it was pretty enough.  Morning spent in the Red Sea looking at fish.  Our last stop in Elat was at a statue commemorating Elat being included in Israel.  That came out wrong.  The story is that a brigade from the Israeli Army ran down to Elat during the Independence War, to stick a flag in the sand and call dibs.  They got there and realized they forgot the flag.  So they took a sheet and drew the Magen David and stripes and it worked.  The original flag/sheet is in a museum somewhere.  A few years ago an artist made a statue to remember them by.  We saw that. 
From there we went to Hai Bar, a nature preserve.  They are trying to revive the animal population from the time of the Torah.  We saw three different types of gazelle like animals, all with different shaped horns, lots of ostriches, wild donkeys and wild horses.  Those animals live in the "wild," they are not caged in.  They live in one large multi-acre enclosure.  We also toured the smaller cages.  My favorite, and Arthur's also, was the leopard.  There was a long story about the leopard that Arthur caught (in his bedroom) and so he would visit it while it lived at the nature preserve.  His leopard has since passed away.  While visiting his leopard, he became friendly with the female leopard living in the enclosure.  So while we were there today, she talked and chatted with him.  It was magical. 
Then we were in the car and heading north.  We passed a hippie commune and stopped for lunch.  This is when we heard the leopard story.  We were so enamored with the story that an hour passed and we still hadn't eaten.  When we thought we were ordering, they thought we were telling them what we had ate, so they never brought us food.  Oh well.  It all worked out in the end.  We had fresh goat cheese, hummus, and salad for lunch.  It was delicious.  Food coma settled and we passed out for the next hour in the car. 
Last stop of the day was the Ramon crater.  It is a crater only in appearance.  Otherwise it is not actually a crater.  It was a huge mountain range formed by the wind.  The wind is so strong there that it eroded the mountain and made a valley or canyon in the middle.  It was spectacular.  There were so many different colors in the rock that it was truly breath taking.  The best part of the crater was that Arthur drove through the whole thing.  He popped his car into 4-wheel drive and off we went.  He drove up and down and over and that way and this way over the rocks.  It was the craziest driving experience.  It was a little nauseating.  But it was a very good time. 
Onwards, towards the goat farm we are staying in tonight.  We called ahead, and they were not serving dinner, so we stopped at the grocery store and bought pita, hummus, salami, cucumbers, and beer.  Then on to the goat farm.  Yes we are staying on a goat farm.  I don't think typing it more helps with anything.  This goat farm has guesthouses.  We are staying in the guesthouses, which are more like cabins in the middle of nowhere looking out onto the mountains.  Spectacular views.  As soon as we got out of the car, Matt made best friends with two golden labs.  They have been following us around for the last 4 hours.  In fact, they are sleeping on the porch of our cabin.  They walked me back to our cabin after hanging out at my parents' cabin.  It is lovely and heartbreaking.  I miss our dogs.  Although, they wouldn't protect us as well, from what I don't know.  Matt also played with the young goats.  They sucked on his fingers and he thought it was great.  I thought their goat cheese was amazing.  But now its bedtime. 

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Israel, Day #7, AKA Jordan - Day #1

Day 7.
Early morning.  Well not really.  We got up after 7 and were out of the hotel at 8:30.  Today we went into Jordan.  That's right, we left the country and went to Jordan.  Going through Customs is interesting.  Apparently you need a guide to make sure you don't screw it up (?) who walks you through the whole Israeli side.  Then you walk through no man's land towards Jordan where you are met with another representative who takes your passport and does the whole thing for you without Customs having to look at you once.  I guess they trust that the Israelis are only letting valid people through.  Okay, we were through Customs and met our guide for the day, Qussai (Ku-sai).  We toured through Aqaba (the city on the Jordanian side next to Elat) and then drove through the mountains towards Petra.  Petra is an ancient city that carved tombs into the sandstone.  It was also used in one of the Indiana Jones movies.  I thought that it was the city itself carved into the sandstone but I was wrong, they are ALL tombs.  The bigger the tomb the more important you were.  It was really beautiful and weird kinda; I mean all that is left of the city is the cemetery because they didn't build anything else that lasted.  But that could be because squatters lived there until 1984 when it became a national park.  It could also be because the Jordanians have not done a lot of excavating or preserving in the area.  They use it for the tourism money.  We were there until 3 in the afternoon.  Our guide brought us 2 hours into Petra through the ravine and past the tombs.  Then we had an hour and a bit to get ourselves back at whatever pace we wanted.  Let me tell you, it was hot in the sun.  It was great in the shade, but hot hot hot in the sun.  And the last half-mile was entirely in the sun.  So we trekked back.  Then we had a typical (maybe) Jordanian lunch.  At this point our guide had lost interest in us completely, although I might have something to do with that.  I asked a question badly and he answered it aggressively.  I asked about how women were dressed.  I did not assume that they had to cover completely but we saw Arab music videos on the TV and they were both dancing and dressing seductively, which is not what I know about Muslim culture.  So I asked and he did not like it very much.  He did say that he would want his woman to cover up and not share any of herself with anyone else... whatevs, moving on.  Long ride back to the border and see ya.  Back in Elat.  Back to swimming in the Red Sea.  Shower. And then we walked on the promenade//boardwalk behind the hotel.  There are a ton of shops here.  We ran into a family from MD that was at the Bedouin tent the night before.  We ate more hummus for dinner with kebobs and pita.  Arthur, our guide for the next 2 days, met us for dinner and we talked about this and that and what we are going to do for the next two days.  I don't remember anything except that we are meeting for breakfast and going snorkeling.  Good night.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Israel, Day #6

Day 6.
It was an early morning.  Up for breakfast at 7.  So damned early.  It was for a very good reason - Masada.  The first car up was at 8; I think we got there at 8:15. Matt wanted to climb the snake path, but it was too late, he would have been miserable.  But as he says, if I didn't want to be miserable I wouldn't have gotten married.  **You should know he just leaned over and bit me as I was typing that, no it is reciprocal.  Back to the story.  We toured Masada, Herod's fortress, his bathhouse, the fortress walls, and the cisterns.  We walked all over the top and around the sides.  There were moments up there that I was writing this in my head - I have forgotten anything I was thinking earlier.  Inside the synagogue they have installed a scribe to write a Torah on Masada.  While we were there he was taking a break and writing the insides of mezuzot.  Masada makes me sad.  Aside from the fact that lots of Jews died there, I wish that the story had a better ending.  I wish that they had not decided to mass suicide - it feels so entirely not Jewish because preserving life is the most important.  It feels hypocritical to Judaism.  After touring Masada we went back down the mountain to the museum, which was hysterical.  It had an audio tour that was activated when you walked into a room.  In the script two people are talking to each other and having the most ridiculous conversation.  "Oh hey I didn't see you standing there!  Want to know about some artifacts we found on Masada? Wonderful let's take a walk through the museum!" stuff.  More funny than anything else.  They did find lot of neat stuff - wow that sounded like I am still in 6th grade.  Try again.  Some of the artifacts are very interesting.  The ones they made the biggest deal over were 12 tiles, pottery shards, with people's names on them.  They thought that this was how the men drew lots to see whom would be the last man standing.  Let's see they also found a braid (like a full braid), a comb, makeup stuff, lots of pottery, pieces of scroll including parts of the Torah, and a Tallit.  They found food and a receipt of some kind also.  The desert is amazing for storing things for long periods of time because it is so dry and hot.  Nothing gets damp and disintegrates.

Okay morning is over and into the car we go.  We are driving down to Elat.  This is the first time any of us has been that far south - it is as far south as you can go.  It is also about 3 hours from Masada with nothing between them.  Just hot Arava.  We did stop at McDonalds - because it was the only option - for a McKebob.  Seriously.  Unidentified meat and deliciousness.  All the way to Elat.  Then it appears out of the desert, almost like Las Vegas.  The desert plays tricks on your eyes.  It is hard to tell how far away things are because you can see them for a really long time before you get anywhere near them. 
Elat.  Elat has a beautiful beach and promenade and a ton of shopping.  It is the import capital of Israel - I might have just made that up.  There is a ton of shopping.  We got in around 3 and were in the Red Sea as quick as we could.  This is also when we said goodbye to Danny.  He starts teaching a course tomorrow so he had to get back.  We have 2 days down here without a guide.  So today we went into the Red Sea.  It is so clear that you can see your feet and the bottom even after you can no longer stand.  And you float more than in the Atlantic or Caribbean.  Not as much as the Dead Sea but still more than anywhere else we were.  We actually relaxed for an entire afternoon! 
We, I mean, I wanted to go to a Bedouin tent for dinner.  And so we did.  They were not authentic, I mean they were but they were not out in the middle of nowhere.  They were at the edge of the downtown area.  We had cheese, hummus, veggies, and pita for dinner.  Matt smoked a hookah.  We all had beer.  It was a good night.  Tomorrow is another new experience.  We are going to Petra.  This should be really good!

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Israel, Day #5, seriously? Already?

Day ...5? I had to go back and look to make sure.
It is hard to believe that we have only been here for 5 days.  We have seen so much of the country, well most of the Northern parts already and have headed south. 
So today.  Breakfast.  Checked out of the cabin and onwards we go!  First stop of yesterday, Capernaum.  It is the supposed home of Peter (Christianity) and also the site of a gorgeous White Synagogue.  It is the most exciting synagogue that we have seen.  There is evidence of great wealth in the synagogue, which makes it very different from all the others.  Beautiful ruins, beautiful mosaic floors.
Then we continued on to Tiberius.  It was hot as hell and I almost don't remember anything about it.  No, that's not true.  We jumped the fence and climbed on the ruins of Tiberius.  There was a water park and marina across the street that ruined some of the excavations.  But we were able to see a large supposed meetinghouse and a jail cell.  Then up the hill, we broke into the theater, which had just been excavated.  I know we broke in because there were a number of people hanging around outside the gate that we drove around to the back.  Beautiful.
Onwards.  That seems to be the word of this trip.  To Bet She'an.  Bet She'an is an old city from the time of the Romans (shocker).  It was at the crossroads between Tiberius and Jericho and a major intersection.  None of the residential homes were uncovered (because there is a city in the way) but the city center has been uncovered.  We saw two bathhouses, the main street, and the side street for prostitutes, and where the market stood during the Muslim time period after the Jews were gone.  This city was leveled first by the big earthquake of 749 and completely disserted.  Then the Muslims came and lived there much later.  Oh and I forgot, they had a theater that was HUGE!  It had 3 levels of seating and could house 7000 people!  CRAZY.  Of course the earthquake destroyed most of that also.  The bottom level still exists and most of the stage.  Nearby they found the coliseum.  Danny drove the car straight into it and growled, like a camel. 
We had lunch at the Kibbutz where Danny grew up.  It is famous for having a kosher meat plant.  The food was delicious.
Southwards - instead of onwards - towards the Dead Sea.  I don't know what happened next as I quickly fell asleep.  I do know that we decided not to stop and go into the Dead Sea, yea it is an experience but we didn't really have the time.  We decided instead to stop at Qumran, where the Dead Sea Scrolls were found.  Qumran is an old community composed entirely of men who wanted to live as holy a life as possible, in the middle of the desert.  They bathed and studied and worked and bathed and studied and worked and bathed.  The Romans also killed them.  It is thought that they saw the smoke from Jericho burning and then hid their library in the caves near their settlement and that no one lived to find them so the scrolls remained hidden until 1952 when a Bedouin went looking for a missing goat and stumbled upon them. 
Then we continued until reaching Ein Gedi, a nature park.  It was closed but we drove through looking for the mini goats/deer anyway until the gate.  In there, there are the remains of an old synagogue, which was also closed, except for the gate.  So we went in.  They were digging a pipe and hit a mosaic floor - surprise it’s a synagogue.  I need another word for beautiful, gorgeous, stunning.  It was. 
Okay to the hotel.  We are staying at Kibbutz Ein Gedi.  Checked in. shower.  Geez we smelled pretty bad after this morning.  And dinner is around the corner.  Okay stopped at the gardens on the way to dinner.  This kibbutz is crazy beautiful.  It is in the middle of nowhere and has the most beautiful gardens.  It is an oasis. 

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Israel, Day #4

Day 4.
Breakfast.  Still asleep.  There were these strange rodents outside our house/hut/cabana this morning.  They looked like rodents only bigger.  They lay in the sun like lizards.  Apparently they are related to elephants and can swing from trees like monkeys.  Weird.  They are called hyrex in case you were curious.
First stop of the day was supposed to be Capernaum, but we had knees and shoulders showing, so it will be the first stop tomorrow.  Second first stop was Gamla, the Masada of the North.  It was a Jewish city during Roman times on top of a mountain ridge.  The Romans attacked it and all the people died.  However, unlike Masada, they did not kill themselves on purpose.  They fought until the battle was lost and then tried to escape.  Unfortunately, the city was on top of a mountain ridge and when they tried to escape many...fell is not the right word, but met their demise on the way out.  So far they have excavated the lookout tower, surrounding wall, and most importantly the synagogue.  Danny says it was most likely used as community center where they also read the Torah on Shabbat.  We did not hike down because it was already hot and the hike back would have been straight uphill.  Also in the area they are trying to rebuild the vulture population.  And by chance a beautiful vulture flew over us while we were standing there.

Then we visited Chateau Golan, a winery.  We saw some of their grapes and learned how wine is made.  They told us about the coloration of wine and the difference between dry and sweet - it’s about the yeast.  We saw the tanks and the barrels.  Then we tasted the wine.  I was not a fan (but I don't like wine) but my parents liked it. 

Onwards towards Mount Bental and the view into Syria from the top.  On the way we saw some tanks resting for Shabbat and stopped and climbed on them, with the permission of the Israeli Army.  Matt climbed up and sat in every spot and asked a lot of questions and grinned from ear to ear.  He even wore a helmet and held the gun.  Good times.  Continuing down the road we stopped at a brewery but did not tour and had a fabulous lunch.  Then we made it to Mount Bental and learned about the wars in ‘67 and ‘73.  From the top we could see straight into Syria and where Lebanon is in the distance.  We climbed through a bunker.  Then I napped in the car.

We went to Banyas Nature Park and went down the loop to the waterfall. I was cranky because I just woke up and we were in the sun, but then we were in the shade and I was human again.  There might have been talk of ice cream also, that always helps.  It was beautiful.  The water was spectacular – we didn’t get in it, because that is not an option.  But the views were breathtaking. 

Last stop of the day - ATV rides.  I don't think we toured anywhere important on the ATVs.  Matt drove and went as fast as he could.  We rode through a farm and up and down the Jordan River.  We stopped at a fresh water brook and stretched.  I tried to walk in it and slipped badly.  No worries, nothing got hurt, but I was soaked.  It was a lot more fun than I expected.  I didn't know what to expect.  When we were done we were covered in dust and filthy. 
Back to the hotel to shower.  Then dinner.  We went out for more hummus, only this time it was Arab style.  Yum.  15 plates of deliciousness later, we are stuffed to the tops and ready for bed.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Israel, Day #3

Day 3.
Last night we didn't get back to the hotel until 11:30ish.  We couldn't sleep.  Pills please and fell asleep around 1.  Up around 8 to pack and have breakfast. 
Today was a heavy day.  We started by visiting Yad Vashem - the Holocaust Museum.  It was nauseating and draining and heavy.  I hate the Holocaust, as we should.  Danny toured us through it, which was much better because I didn't have to read every sad detail.  Selfish I know.  The museum is different from the last time I was there (12 years ago).  There were less terrifying numbers and more personal stories.  Somehow that made it better?  Not really.  There were a lot of pictures and videos taken by German soldiers to help them remember their experiences and they seemed very distant.  They didn't take pictures of the suffering.  When those pictures appeared, I cried (like I do).  And I lost it again in the children’s' memorial (like I do).  There was also the Valley of Communities, a maze of walls covered in the names of cities where Jews used to live and lost their lives.  It was crazy how many names there were.

Lunch.  Hummus.  We went to Danny's favorite place in all of Jerusalem off of Ben Yehuda.  We mentioned Danny's name (while he parked the car) and Sammy took care of us.  There was hummus, pita, mousakka, potato things filled with meat, hummus with meat, pickles, rice and beans, and I know I am forgetting some other plate.  There was no room for a fork on the table.  Now I wish I had a picture of how stuffed the table was. 

From lunch we walked to a craft fair.  I bought a beautiful ring (I who has not carried a single coin or card with me at all since we got here...).  It is handmade and fits my fat fingers!  Then we walked to the market.  Hello, today is Friday so it is also Shabbat and the market was PACKED!  Craziness.  And hot.  Oh my.  Hello dehydration.  We didn't expect to spend so much time outside and walking so we didn't have enough water.  We met Danny at a restaurant at the end of the street and drank 4 pitchers of water.  Somehow it was 3:30 and then we drove North towards Tiberius and the Sea of Galilee.  I slept for the first hour or so while Matt and Mom talked with Danny about this that and the other.  We are staying in a very rustic cabin with a beautiful view of the Sea.  Yes we know it is actually a lake - but the Christians named it so we go with it.  Tonight we had dinner at the restaurant and stayed talking for a long time.  Matt had schnitzel for the first time.  Yum.  I had dark chocolate volcano cake.  Oh after I shared lamb, steak, chicken, and sausage with my Dad, and a salad.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Israel, Day #2

Day 2.
I woke up very rested and happy.  Breakfast with cheese stuffed pastry and watermelon.  Yum.  We met back with Danny and walked back into the Old City through the Shouk and towards the Temple Mount.  Today was Danny's day to be angry.  Things just were not working out for him.  At the entrance to the Temple Mount, we found out I was inappropriately dressed.  My shirt was too "skinny."  Looking at the pictures, I think they meant “see-through,” which irritates me because I definitely teach in that shirt… Anyway, in order to stay we had to buy a scarf for 10x its worth.  Danny was furious because after buying it, the vendor said that Danny was working for a commission and didn't tell us on purpose.  What a jerk - the vendor, not Danny.  Focus.  Focus.  The Temple Mount is where the Temple used to stand.  It is a huge open plaza with a mosque in the middle (hence the need to be modest).  However, we couldn't enter either the mosque or the Dome of the Rock (where Mohammed went up to heaven and returned) because we are not Muslim.  We toured the whole area anyway.  It is gorgeous.  Back into the Old City and we saw the Burnt House.  It is a house from the time of the Second Temple that has been excavated.  I think someone's house is above it and this was in the basement when they dug to do renovations.  It is very interesting; you can clearly see the different rooms in the basement as well as some of the objects that were there.  Then lunch.  Schwarma.  Delicious.

After lunch we did some speed shopping on the way back to the Western Wall.  We prayed.  And then did the Western Wall tunnel tour.  We walked the entire length of the Western Wall in the tunnel beneath the city.  It was very cool, both in temperature and the amount of history we were able to touch. At the other end of the tunnel we met back up with Danny.  He didn't do any of the guided tours with us, duh it would be boring for him or he would correct the other tour guide.  Makes sense to me.  On the way we found an African Catholic church with a beautiful garden.  Then we visited the church at Gethsemane, where he prayed and was arrested.  Of course there is at least a 300-year gap between when it happened and when the church was built, but it was a beautiful church.  Then up the Mount of Olives we went for the view and to sift through dirt from beneath the Temple Mount.  There was an emergency exit created a few years back that removed 10 truckloads of dirt without any archaeological supervision.  We found tons of pottery, glass, and normal rocks.  We also found mosaics, marble, and I found an animal tooth and a glass bead.  Final stop of the day, Zedekiah's cave used by the Free Masons, but before that it was a quarry.  The thought of carving stone out of a cave and bringing it up to the surface sounds awful.  Glad it is not my job.  The story is that they used the area as a quarry and then later Zedekiah hid in there while the city was besieged by... someone else...  Anyway, it was very beautiful and cool inside the cave.

Hotel. Shower.  Dinner - I had goose, Matt had fish.  It was one of the more delicious meals we have had here.  After dinner, we went back into the Old City to David's Citadel for a light show.  I can't tell you anything about the show because it didn't make sense, so I fell asleep. The Citadel is an old fortress that was built where the Romans thought David's palace was.  They were way off.  The fortress was very neat with nooks and crannies, the way it should be.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

The LONGEST day ever

Day 1ish.  Oh my goodness this has been a long trip already.  Let's start with yesterday.
We bummed around all morning.  We had lunch.  It was a Tuesday.  We abandoned our dogs and went to the airport.  Normal stuff at this point, we checked in, went through security, bathrooms, food, really good burgers and shakes.  Then it was different.  Apparently, when you fly to Israel the waiting area is separate from everyone else.  They also check your passports and tickets again, and then again when you board the plane.  Hmm, makes sense I just didn't know that before.  10.5 hours, 2 movies (out of 195 available), 3-5 hours of sleep (depending on who you ask), dinner, and breakfast.  Later, we arrived in Tel Aviv.  Danny, our tour guide for the trip met us at the airport, drove to Jerusalem, and took us to check in at our hotel.  Then the trip started.

It was 11am (4am body time) and we had less than 5 hours of sleep and we were walking towards the Old City of Jerusalem.  We walked down Mamila St (shopping which we DID NOT do) towards the Japha Gate.  We bought an Israeli bagel - oval not circular and tastes differently better than US bagels.  Then we walked through the Shouk.  Where to start with the Shouk?  It is a cobble stone group of streets with small stores on either side.  The street is maybe 10-15 feet wide.  The shops are about the size of a good walk-in closet.  It is ancient also.  It is the old market now filled with everything from tourist crap to leather shoes, spices, and I also saw chicken wire there.  It was a market; it is still the market.  We walked through the Shouk on the way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.  This is the spot where it is believed that Jesus was crucified and buried.  Every denomination of Christianity (except the Protestants) has a different part of the church they are in control of.  I think the Armenian's may have it best because they have control of what they think is the actual tomb.

Onwards, towards and past the Western Wall of the Temple Mount and on to the City of David, where they believe that King David lived.  This is the part where I started to lose it.  It was hot as hell and we hadn't eaten much.  In fact I don't remember having eaten lunch at all. Anyway, back to the story.  We walked over and through some ruins from King David's time period to an underground tunnel.  It was the water system from way back when and because the city was going to be attacked, they dug a tunnel to move the water inside the walls.  Two teams dug from opposing ends and actually met in the middle.  Crazy accurate.  In the middle there are some crazy right and left turns to help them meet.  I was better during this walk because it was both underground (cooler) and in the water at least to our ankles and at one point to our knees (wonderful). 

Then we taxied back to the hotel for a happy hour (because our luggage was kind of missing - in that they never brought it up to our room) and a shower. We walked to Ben Yehuda street to show Matt and look in the windows and then decided to walk towards the Old City for dinner.  We walked and walked and walked and couldn't figure out why we were not there yet.  We walked all the way to the windmill and then I broke down in tears from exhaustion and hunger.  Full on crying.  No screaming, that would have taken more energy.  Tears streaming down my face exhaustion.  Dinner.  I began to talk again.  We found out today that someone was turned around and didn't realize just how close we were if we had walked back down instead of across.  Oh well.  Taxi home.  Slept 11 hours.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Congrats Tim & Sarah!

Matt's BFF got married this weekend!  Matt & Tim are BFFs from college and lived together for 6 out of the last 11 years (Matt told me so, so it must be true).  Sarah is Tim's other half. They balance each other out so well.  He cooks; she bakes.  She crafts; he builds.  They love zombies and vampires and have a plan in case of attack. 

So Friday night - rehearsal & dinner.  My favorite parts were all variations on one theme: Sarah telling the judge who officiated the wedding, AKA her boss, to skip that part for right now.  Dinner was at Positano's, a lovely Italian place in Bethesda.  YUM!

Tim gave his groomsmen the best gift ever!  They each got a personalized cooler filled with beer, an opener, coozies, and their tie for the wedding.  They each got beer based on their personal beer preferences.  All three guys were really happy!

Saturday afternoon, the wedding was beautiful!  There are not any other words for it.  BEAUTIFUL! 

So the reception was at a fairground that was popular during the 50's.  It is near where Sarah grew up.  The reception was in the bumper car pavilion.  The carousel was also up and working.  We rode it twice and took a ton of pictures. 

My favorite parts of the whole wedding experience were all the parts they did themselves.  Sarah & Tim made so many of the components themselves.  The icing on the cake (they didn't make the cake) was the guest book.  They designed a "family tree."  Everyone put their stamp on the tree either at the rehearsal or during the wedding.  It was beautiful! 

They also made the table assignments.  They used the same fabric under the centerpieces and to cover the programs.  I never knew exactly how crafty Sarah was, she is very crafty.  She has been been working on all these projects for months.  They all turned out beautifully.

All Tim's college friends
 Here are some of my favorite shots!


Me & My Hubby
The Bridesmaids

Congrats to the Bride & Groom!!!!

Congrats Carrie & Garratt!

This weekend was wonderful.  I love weddings!  Saturday morning, I woke up early and drove up to PA.  I got there nice and early - a WHOLE hour before the wedding.  Unheard of!  And yes I meant just "I."  Unfortunately, Matt was not able to be there.  He was getting ready for another wedding that day.  He sent them tons of love though through me.   

Matt's cousin Carrie was getting married to the man of her dreams!  Carrie and Garratt are two of the sweetest people I know.  They love each other so much.  And they were married this weekend. 

It was a beautiful service with meaningful readings and a lovely song sung by another guest.  ( I didn't know him... he was not a Reese).  I loved every moment of it! 

Matt & I want to wish them years of a happy lovely and wonderful marriage. I cannot remember the last time I have seen Carrie as happy as she is when she is with Garratt. 

Welcome to Summer Vacay!

So this school came and went.  Actually, it went on Friday.  For the last week we have been giving and grading tests, cleaning up our classrooms, and counting down to the last second.  That was Friday!  We celebrated with friends and turned in our keys!  That is the moment when we know that they school year is over and the summer has begun!

So on the table for this summer: 3 weddings, Israel, Rome, Chicago, Austin, Tennessee, and Colorado.  I cannot forget to mention Beer Camping and them the Settlers tournament.  There is also a new patio in the backyard and a back-splash in the kitchen.  We have other plans too, but they are secret right now.  You will just have to wait.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

I can't believe this!

I cannot believe I am doing this again. It has only been 2 years. I cannot believe that SITES doesn't have enough space for me to keep going. Here is the story:

I was posting about my friends' wedding and writing about how much fun I had this weekend when I got a message: You have run out of space! BOOOOOOO! I was halfway through sharing only my favorite pictures. It was such a sad moment.

So I did some research. I search the webs. They told me (after two years) that if I wanted to add more space to the site I already had, I would have to start over. And pay $$$ to have more space than I had. BOOOOOOOO again!

So here I am. It's midnight. And I am starting my blog over again. What are the odds.