Saturday, July 7, 2012

Israel - Jerusalem

You know, one would think there would be certain things to be left behind in the States when traveling to another country:  English as the primary language, foods, community, etc. I must say, I was not surprised when sat down in the lobby this morning and heard

She wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts
She's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers...

But I was a bit disappointed. Apparently, one cannot get away from T. Swift, even in Israel! As Monnie was the only person who met me in the lobby this morning, I ended up walking with her around Jerusalem. There is something to be said for waking up before the city and taking everything in as the sun rises.

We got into Jerusalem yesterday (Friday) around 2:30 and immediately went into the Old City. What an amazing sight. I was able to try falafel - deep-fried, ground chickpeas rolled in seasoning and eaten in a pita. Not my favorite, but I can say I gave falafel a shot. A group of us meandered around and ended up at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. There must have been mass at 4:45 because all of a sudden a mass of people swarmed the church. That was our cue to leave as we will be going back to the Old City tomorrow for an official tour.

(I must mention that, on our way to Jerusalem, we stopped at Massuah. This is a museum that focuses on Adolf Eichmann. So interesting.)

Today was, in one word, amazing. We drove to Masadah, which is an Israeli National Park. Built by King Herod, it is known in Israel because Jews who were kicked out of Jerusalem found refuge at this former palace. They were later surrounded by Romans and, instead of being captured and used as slaves, they committed suicide.

View of the Dead Sea from Masadah

The next stop was the Dead Sea - the lowest point on Earth. At 122 degrees Fahrenheit, the water felt wonderful. This would be the perfect place for a triathlon (well, besides the heat) if it weren't for the salt; you cannot sink. I walked in, leaned back, and immediately floated. I had to physically push down my legs in order to stand.

Dead Sea

Our last stop for the day was Ein Gedi, a natural falls in the desert. Boy was this a welcome treat. The water was cool and the company delightful.

Ein Gedi

All in all, this has been an instructive and amazing experience thus far. Tomorrow we are going to Yad Vashem and then touring the Old City. A day and a half left in Israel and then it's off to Germany. I'm thinking I'm going to skip my run in the morning, seeing as how it is now midnight and our wake-up call is at 6:30 a.m. Hey, I need a break every once in a while!

p.s. My hotel (Mamilla Hotel) is spectacular, especially the bathroom in my room. Pictures to come.

In front of the Old City right outside of Jaffa Gate.

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