Category Archives: The Middle East

Israel, Part III

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 Andrew’s visit: Tel Aviv, the grottos at Rosh HaNikra, Lebanese and Syrian borders at Mt. Bental in the Golan Heights, Roman ruins and aqueducts at Caesarea, Jerusalem, Bedouin tents in Arad, climbing Masada, the Dead Sea, Tel Aviv & Yaffo.  Lots of pictures…

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Israel, Part II

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The best of the rest: Memorial Day, Independence Day, family & friends!

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June Schedule

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May 28-June 5: Andrew visits Israel!

June 6-7: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

June 8-10: Salvador, Brazil

June 11-12: Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

June 13-14: Iguazu Falls, Brazil

June 15: Iguazu Falls, Argentina

June 16-19: Buenos Aires, Argentina

June 20-22: Cuzco/Machu Picchu, Peru

June 23-25: Arequipa, Peru

June 26-27: Lima, Peru

June 28: Pittsfield, Massachusetts, USA!!

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Ephesus, Turkey

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With back-to-back overnight buses (let’s chalk it up to a failed experiment), we started the day in Kusadasi, stopping at the House of the Virgin Mary, which has its own version of the Western Wall note phenomenon,the Basilica of St. John, and the one remaining (reconstructed) column of one of the Seven Wonders of the Ancient World – the Temple of Artemis. (What happened to the rest of the Temple, you ask?  Oh, stolen and housed at the British Museum in London).  The highlight was the ruins at Ephesus; from the mosaics at the terrace houses to the two-story library, the ruins are incredibly well preserved and expansive. Move over, Pompeii, the ruins at Ephesus take the crown for most impressive.

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Istanbul, Turkey

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Istanbul was a wonderful surprise. I was expecting something more Middle Eastern, perhaps – similar to Morocco, but the reality is that Istanbul is a highly European city with well-organized public transportation, a sophisticated tourism industry, a thriving arts scene, and quite a bit to do and see.  Our first night, we met up with a camp friend who knows Istanbul well and introduced us to the best Baklava in town, which quickly became a thrice-daily occurrence.  We toured all the major landmarks – the Blue Mosque, the Aya Sofia, the Topkapi Palace, Grand Bazaar, Egyptian Bazaar, Synagogue, Bosphorus boat from Europe to Asia (one side of the city to the other)– each place magnificent in its own right.  Clearly, after all that touring, we couldn’t help but unwind with steam rooms and massages at a Turkish hammam.

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Israel, Part I

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Between trips, I’ve been coming home to Israel.  And counting my various relatives, friends, family friends, Gidon, and the apartment I am renting in Jerusalem, there are quite a few homes to come home to.  It has been wonderful to be here – seeing friends, hiking, beach-ing, volunteering, and dusting off my Hebrew.  Despite having spent approximately 2+ years of my life here, spread out amongst well over a dozen trips, there are so many uncharted corners of the country.  I’ve explored Byzantine ruins, mountain hikes, clear springs, cities, and neighborhoods that I’d previously never been to.  I’ve had a bizarre number of “small world” encounters, met people from communities with which I’ve never before  engaged, and am reminded every day how much I love Israel  – though  the old woman at the bus stop might push you down to get ahead of you in line, no one is more hospitable than the people of Israel – from free cab rides to Jerusalem when I was having visa trouble to take-out restaurants offering to return my call so it would be free, Happy almost 63rd Birthday Israel!

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May Schedule

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May 2 –  Yom Hashoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day, Israel

May 7 –  Ari arrives in Israel!

May 9 – Yom Hazikaron, Memorial Day, Israel

May 10 –  Yom Ha’atzmaut, Independence Day, Israel

May 10-13 –  Istanbul, Turkey

May 14 – Ephesus, Turkey

May 15-17 –  Dubrovnik, Croatia

May 18-20 –  Elafiti Islands, Croatia

May 28 – Andrew arrives in Israel!

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Marrakech, Morocco

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A walled-city of labyrinthine alleyways filled with donkey-carts, spice-sellers, carpet hawkers, snake charmers, and palm readers, the Medina (old city) of Marrakech has been the highlight of my travels.  In the center of the Medina is Djemma el Fna square; nightly, at 7pm, the square explodes with life – an entire night market of food stalls – lanes of appetizer carts, kebab carts, couscous & tagine carts,  soup carts, tea &dessert carts, fresh juice carts – suddenly appears, anchoring the madness of throngs of people.  Around the food market, as far as the eye can see, are entertainers – musicians, storytellers, carnival games, henna artists – each with its own crowd of onlookers.  The outside ring of Djemaa el Fna is the souqs – the multi-level markets whose passageways twist and turn into each other – sellers hawk ceramics, lamps, leather goods, jewelry, antiques – all of which is part of an elaborate bargaining game (we learned that the rock-bottom price is generally about 1/3 of the originally proposed price, and it often took several minutes of negotiations and a turn of “walking away,” to get to that magic number).

One of the best surprises in Morocco was the people.  From the owners of our incredible riad (guesthouse) in the Medina, to the free “guides” we picked up in the Mellah (Jewish Quarter), at the Bahia palace, or on our way to the Majorelle Gardens, we found that everyone with whom we interacted exuded warmth and went above and beyond to help us find our way/enhance our trip.  I could go on at length reciting all that I loved about Marrakech, but I’ll let the pictures show the rest.

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April Schedule

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April 4-7: Rome, Italy

April 8-11: Marrakech & Essaouira, Morocco

Passover and the rest of April: Israel!

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Liron’s Wedding

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March 1st, 2011  – Beit Chanan, Israel

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