Posted by: griswoldfun | April 16, 2012

Israel: The Miscellaneous

A final Israel post about the miscellaneous stuff!

We toured with a group from our church – there were 45 of us.  We have never gone on a group tour and didn’t know how it would work out.  It was awesome!  Loved having the local tour guide who knew so much. Loved having the bus driver so we didn’t have to rent a car and try to navigate through Israel by ourselves and we got to sit back and relax (nap) between stops. 

The tour group took care of hotel arrangements (nice hotels) and breakfast and dinner (buffets at the hotels).  We paid for our lunches, but our guide took us to restaurants that were accustomed to serving groups – often buffets or a limited menu.

And honestly, I really loved that the tour guide knew where the bathrooms were at each stop or how long to the next bathroom… and he would tell us if they were cleaner. We loved having the camaraderie of others from home (we didn’t know most of them before this trip, but by the time we said goodbye at the airport it felt like we were leaving our new friends that we had made at youth camp…only we get to see them again).

Our guide ‘s name was Shlomo  and he looked like he was related to Robin Williams.

One night in our hotel we caught a part of  “Arab idol ” – same theme music but that is all we understood.

English is taught in school and most signs were in Hebrew and English (and often had Arabic ,too). Everyone spoke English to us and was extremely friendly (approx 3.5M tourists a year).

 Gas was approx $9 a gallon while we were there.

My souvenirs were an  olive wood nativity, a pretty scarf,  a charm for my charm bracelet, and a pair of earrings made of the local Eilat stone (and Mr. G got a t-shirt).

Diet Coke tastes good whether in Hebrew or Arabic!

We ate a lot of  humus (or humos), which I like, but I am not a fan of falafel (fried chickpeas).  This is the shawarma (chicken):

While most places have stray dogs, Israel had stray cats – and lots of them.

I took approximately 2,800 pictures. What can I say? I am a click happy person.

When I look through my pictures and I am not sure what I am looking at, I just label it a water cistern or a ritual bath house…. We saw a lot of them!

Did anyone notice that in all of our Jerusalem pictures we appear to be wearing the same clothes? It was cold in Jerusalem (high of 50s with wind – and rainy a few days).  I promise we had on clean shirts underneath our jackets. Also, we were teased for our loud colors, but it paid off as we were easy to spot in a crowd.

We felt very safe while in Israel. One day we did notice a greater police presence in Jerusalem, but then realized they were there to provide support to the crowds that were cheering on the Jerusalem marathon. I have heard of some tourists having difficulties with safety, but I think part of traveling with a tour guide is that the guide keeps you out of places you shouldn’t be.

And this is the Cross of Jerusalem or Crusaders’ Cross – the four smaller crosses represent the four gospels or the four directions that the word of Jesus spread from Jerusalem. Or all together the 5 crosses can symbolize the five wounds Jesus received during the crucifixion.

It sounds cheesy, but we got to experience Biblical history coming alive.  We have a better understanding of what is going on ”over there” when we watch the news.  It was our “Christian pilgrimage” and we loved it!

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