This will be my last post sharing pictures from my Sunday visit to Jerusalem.   You can think of this post as a “vacation picture” buffet… lots of stuff all thrown together with the hopes that at least something will be pleasing.


I will start the Western Wall.   I hope it is not disrespectful to take pictures of individuals as they pray as it is almost impossible to take a picture without that being the case.   I will admit that it adds charm to the pictures.  (Boy is that a touristy thing to say)  I do have a respect and admiration for individuals with such a devout faith.


Next I went up and visited the Dome of the Rock.  If you are not Muslim you are still able to visit but you must come at certain times and enter by a special wood ramp.  (See picture below)



When you visit this place you are asked to show respect.   A couple from France asked me to take their picture.  The man put his arm around his wife and someone ran across the square and let them know that it was ok to take pictures but not ok to touch each other.   (This was stated in a very direct way… not mean just direct.   I wished they would post the rules before you entered.)


 I could feel tension here.   I learned that the month before there was a “shootout” at this place and two Israeli police and three gunman were killed.   (kind of scary… Here is a link)



Next I visited the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  I learned something new this visit.   Here is the entrance. (It is always important to look for details and question what you are seeing)


I looked closer and noticed a ladder near a window. I was travelling with someone that new that this was an important detail.  For those who may not know, it is actually significant and has a name.   The name is the “Immovable Ladder”.  The ladder has been there since the 1700s and cannot be moved unless the 6 Christian groups that claim this area agree on it moving.   In 1964 the Pope decided that it should not be moved until the divisions amongst the Christian sects are resolved.   (here is a closer look along with pictures from inside)





Last of all I will throw together a bunch of photos taken while walking to the top of the Mount of Olives.   It is quite the hike up and if you decide to do this on foot you will have many friendly cab drivers telling you that it is “TOO HARD”.  They then out of genuine concern offer you a lift to the top.   I am not joking… I was given this same line about five times.


Church of All Nations


Garden of Gethsemane






That is all for my Jerusalem photos…. Thanks for stopping by!


Just Got HOME! (Last Pictures from Israel)

I just arrived home after a long flight.   I was fortunate (read that with sarcasm) to sit in the same row as two very large men.   I was by the window and every time someone would walk down the aisle, or bring the cart down the aisle, the two gentleman would have to squish into the row which crushed me into the side of the airplane.   This happened the entire flight…  twice while I was asleep… knocking the wind out of me.  Luckily the flight was only 11 hours (read that again with sarcasm).   I didn’t think that things could get worse but the very large man in the middle seat fell asleep on me.   When he finally woke up the left side of me was soaking wet with his sweat.  (wow I probably shouldn’t complain…   I am sure it could have been a little bit worse… you know like the plane going down and killing us all)

I want to share my last day with all of you.   I had hoped to have at least half of a day open to go visit somewhere cool… or even just somewhere other than work and the hotel.  Unfortunately I had too much work… or maybe it was not enough time… either way I was not able to go site seeing.   (I am going to just share my last day… next time I will make sure I have enough time… maybe even visit Petra)

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Here was my last breakfast…   yep… desert for breakfast.   I am going to have to go on a serious diet to make up for all of the eating I have done this past week.  I tried supplementing my meals with a little bit of healthy options.  (Enough to take away the guilt… )   I fell in love with the pears in the picture below.  I have no idea what kind of pear they are but they are “mini” sized.   I was able to eat one of these and not ruin my appetite for the real food… you know cheese cakes, fruit tartes, Belgium waffles and of course halva.

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After my breakfast feast I went on my last morning walk.   Here are some picture from that walk.

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This fish was on the walk way… being guarded by a cat.   I pulled out my camera and the cat ran off and hid.  I have never seen a camera shy cat before… imagine… scared enough to leave behind this prize (still got his picture of it… see below)

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I didn’t have much time for this walk otherwise I would have sat on this toilet… pretending to go…you know… just to watch other people’s reactions.   (Next time I really need to plan to have more time for the important things like toilet pranks)

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In Israel Sunday is the beginning day for work and Thursday is Israel’s “Friday”.  In our office Thursday you can count on two large challah loafs on every floor.   I am going to have to find a recipe for this brioche like bread… (am still working on my halva recipe… looking for help if you know how to make halva… please leave a comment)

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When I visit other countries I love visiting the grocery stores.  It is always fun to see what is the same and what is different.  Plus it is free to visit unlike  a lot of monuments and museums… you just have to put yourself in a “zoo visiting” state of mind.    Especially when looking at the people.  People watching is fantastic at the store since people are most like themselves while shopping. (you know… seeing them in their natural habitat… just don’t try to feed them… ).  I love seeing everything written in Hebrew…   I am still struggling to learn Hebrew and my mind keeps changing the Hebrew characters into English ones.  I didn’t realize that the store’s logo was English and Hebrew.   I thought it read “stop!  Open”.   I noticed that the second word was not English on the last day.

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Speaking of Hebrew… “Shin” is the first letter I learned… and it’s sound is “sh”.  (This was also the first letter in a word I learned during a meeting שתוק“shutup”) I remember this letter because you see it alone everywhere.  Many of you know what you are looking at… but I had no clue until I asked.   This was on my hotel door and you will find these little tubes with this letter on many doors.  (Every door at my office has one).  I learned that these are called mezuzah and have a small prayer written inside.

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Not all of the stores have Hebrew words… like this store…   “Gentleman It’s a Man’s World”…. what a long name for a store.  When I entered I was glad I had a beard… you know proving my manliness.  I wonder if they let women shop there?

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And then there are places with no English… (other than a coke advertisement).   This is where I had lunch on my last day.   I went with co-workers and they wanted to eat hummus.   I thought I didn’t like hummus, since I had only eaten the hummus you buy in the store… plus in my ignorance I thought hummus was just a chip dip.   They offered to go somewhere else but I wanted to see how you could make a meal out of this adult baby food.

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I practiced the name of what I wanted… which meant everything… and ordered it here.  (picture above and darn it… I have already forgotten how to say the name).   Watching this gentleman prepare my dish was like watching an artist.  He painted on tahini and hummus, plopped in onions, parsley, and courser ground chickpeas (not quit hummus), and swirled in sauces and oils.  I caught him before he plunged the egg… not sure I wanted hard boiled egg mixed with all of that stuff.  He signed the work of art with red spices… not sure what kind of spice but I imagine paprika.

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Here is my lunch and I was not sure how I was going to eat this…   But it was fantastic.  I was completely wrong about hummus and it is definitely “meal worthy”.   I think I only got about half of the bowl eaten.   I mentioned not being able to do any site seeing but this lunch on its own was an interesting view of this regions culture.   I think we often forget that a meal can be an exotic vacation alone in itself… plus the food doesn’t mind when you stare or take pictures.

The day quickly ended and I had a plane to catch… but had three hours to waste and I spent it on the beach.

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I got to spend the last night on the beach with a sunset… so romantic… made me really miss Isabelle.  (I am not sure I should say it was romantic without her… don’t want her to get any ideas.)

Thanks for taking the time to read this!

Back in Isreal

I just arrived in Israel (yes I am here again…  feel like I just left).  I am back for work and everything about this trip is starting to feel familiar.   I am staying at the same hotel, Herods in Herzliya, and in fact they put me in the exact same room… I am not going to tell you the room number you will just have to believe me.  (You can see the hotel above in a photo I took this morning… and you can see my room in the photo below)

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I know… the hotel and hotel room pictures are boring.  One of the things about travelling to the same place frequently is that all of the newness goes away.   I worry about sharing pictures of this trip with all of you because I have already shared so much.   What I hope is that even if you are familiar with my posts and especially the posts from Israel I will still be able to offer something interesting, surprising, and hopefully weird.   Often places that are very familiar can become “new and exciting” again if you just pay enough attention and try to truly see things.   (Our minds tend to tune out so much… especially when we are familiar with the place)

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A colleague and I arrived in Israel very late last night… darn flight delays. (six hours delay in New York)   I didn’t feel like eating but he was “snack” hungry. (“Snack hungry” is a new term he taught me)   We stopped by a “familiar” place McDonald’s.  This seems to be very familiar even in Israel.

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We realized that we were not exactly “home” when we tried to read the menu and noticed that everything was in Hebrew.  We were both taken aback by the strange combination of familiar icons and food images along side very unfamiliar letters.  My co-worker stated “you can’t even try to sound out the words”.

This was kind of interesting… Then… we looked closer…

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It is not often you see a person in line before you with a live boa wrapped around his neck.   Notice the counter worker looking around to see if the snake was real.  I am not sure I would have looked or remained so calm.  We decided to wait back a bit until this young man left with his order… (wonder if he shared his food with his pet snake and if he did… is McDonald’s food safe for snakes?).

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Today (this morning) I went for a small walk around familiar places including the beach on the north side of my hotel (Acadia)… really a fantastic beach.    A coworker from here said it is a “how you say it….  a cripple beach”.    I looked around the entrance to see if I could find a sign stating the beach’s accessibility in the same way as my co-worker… but no luck.   I hope I haven’t offended anyone.   I am sure this is one of those things lost in translation and I think what she meant was that it is handicap accessible.

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This picture of all of the cheeses is to make my wife jealous. (Isabelle… I miss you already)

I followed up my walk with the now “familiar” and always “fantastic” breakfast…  and yes I am going to share again pictures of the wonderful breakfast my hotel offers.

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Thanks for taking the time to read this!  I will try to post something new and interesting from this trip later this week!

Weekend Home – Wrap up for trip to Israel

I am finally home and enjoying time with my family… which includes boring them all to tears with my stories and pictures of Israel.   (I guess my trip story telling is not as exciting as actually being there…kids can be rough critics…)   I am going to rid myself of all of my desires to share my trip here… so in other words I will be boring all of you to tears!… (Sorry wished I could promise more… although there will be a weird picture or two)

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Ben loved the idea of a big “chess” game…  I showed this to him while video chatting.   I think he was more excited to see this than me.

I stayed at Herods in the city of Herzliya.  (I finally know how to say the name of the place) I want to share some pictures of my hotel… ya… I know… if you are like my children you are rolling your eyes. You can look at them quickly if this bores you too much.

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This is the garden in between the two buildings that make up the hotel. I love this hotel!!!  The first time I stayed in the one on the right and this time I stayed in the one on the left.   On the other side of both buildings you can watch the sail boats come in and out of the harbor.   (The water is on both sides of the building and also directly in front of this picture)

Umm… I know that I shared breakfast pictures last time I stayed but in keeping with my “bore you to tears” theme here it is again. This time I will share just a small subset of the amazing breakfast buffet. (Click here Trip to Israel (part 2) to see a more comprehensive view)

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I had fish every morning.   On the far left you will see the smoked salmon with a sign stating that it was salmon.   This is one of the only fish that I could recognize with certainty.   What I found interesting is that the rest of the fish didn’t have signs. I never knew exactly what I was eating.  I wonder if there were no signs because the cooks didn’t know what they were serving.

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I also ate some of the nuts and dried fruits but to be honest I mostly ate bread with the honey. There is something special about getting it from the honey comb and this made me want to eat it every day. (you can see the honey comb upright near the nuts and small jars of jam)

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And yes… I gave into the temptation offered by this part of the breakfast buffet. I do not think I have ever eaten so much desserts for breakfast in all of my life.   This might be my new favorite breakfast… pound cake, cheesecake, and halva!

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Near the hotel there are great beaches. I had only visited the one south of the hotel not realizing that there was a much larger/nicer beach to the north.  I had a goal to walk along the beach south all the way to Tel Aviv (16 km round trip.. here is a map) but I didn’t get the chance to do this… maybe next time.

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The harbor also has many restaurants and stores and is a fantastic place to wander around aimlessly.  I love watching the cats, people and boats (millions of stray cats everywhere… ummm millions might be a slight exaggeration) .  The food was fantastic as well.  Here are some pictures taken near my hotel at the harbor.

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If you look closely you will see some cats. One up by the orange sign was the only stray that looked… well like a stray… it’s face was mangled.   I avoided it.  The rest I had no problem being near and if you were eating they had not problem rubbing up to you under the table… eww just thought about the mangled one rubbing up against my leg. Even with pants it would be disgusting.  I would probably have to throw those pants away.

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My first night there we ate at the harbor at Benny HaDayag (the fisherman).  I was not really hungry but thought that I would get a light fish dish.  I ordered a Moroccan fish dish… I know… not very light but it sounded good.  I had no idea that the order included a bunch of other stuff.

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We had no idea that this was going to come.  I just wanted a small plate of fish.
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Here is my fish… it was delicious!

Ok… I am going to stop boring you… well not really…  I want to share some more random pictures… hopefully more entertaining.   I often speak of creating a “coffee table” book.(yes I am all talk no action).   Here is another coffee table book idea.  “Art crap you see by or in the road”… maybe too long of a title. I know, I could just call the book – “Roadside Crap”.

Here are some pictures for that book!

Ocean themed roadside crap!

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The happy blue whale!  This could only be improved by adding a “whale -spout” fountain
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Sea snail… kind of nice… well at least in the sunrise it looks kind of nice.

Military themed roadside crap:

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Old canon… umm… probably something historic?
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Dual function… art and protection!   They also added a fountain how beautifully scary.

Intimidating or unrecognizable roadside crap:

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Reminds me of my father when he would find out that I had done something wrong.
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umm… just don’t know…
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Big green thing?… um maybe an anchor?

Ok, enough of that… sorry if the pictures were blurred.  I took most of these through a car window while riding in a car. (that was redundant… I can’t imagine a case where I would take a picture through a car window without being in the car)  I have just a couple more pictures to share.

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This was the most confusing bathroom I have ever visited.  The outer signs showed that the entrance was for both men and women.  Once you enter the door you have a women right and a man right set of signs.   I am sorry I didn’t take any pictures inside but from there it got more confusing.

Herzliya 26There were two doors and in between the doors a “man | woman” sign.   I figured that the door on the left would be the man’s door and the door on the right would be for women… but I wasn’t sure.   I was relieved when I saw urinals and started to do my business.  I looked up and then noticed the same “man | woman” sign above my urinal.  What did that mean?  Was this a “unisex” bathroom?  and my biggest question… Can women use a urinal?

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I am not sure what this sign meant… does it mean I should run down the stairs?.  On the other hand I knew exactly what the following sign meant.   “Danger of Death”… much better warning than “Danger of Electrocution”.

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For those wondering, A colleague of mine asked if McDonald’s was the same in Israel.(This would be very important to Ben) My colleague was told that it is exactly the same. You never want to just blindly trust what people say…and luckily we didn’t have to eat there to validate this since I was able to find absolute confirmation!

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I discovered a new candy bar…   CORNY BIG…   (I have been called worse)
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This is one of Ben’s favorite.  Not only did he like the big chess game, he loved what he called “EGG CHAIRS”

For the end, I want to share with you a statue I saw at a park in Ra’anana.  I was not able to get a picture so I borrowed one from the internet… (I usually don’t do that…  on this blog the photos are always mine).

I post this not just because it is fun to look at but it also serves as a public service warning.   For those of you who have not enough reasons for avoiding the accordion here is one big reason that should dissuade you from playing this awful musical instrument.

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Thanks for taking the time to read me again.


Weekend and Work Travel (Part 4 – Caesarea)


This is part 4 of a one day site seeing visit to northern Israel (in the case you have missed part 1 – 3 here are the other parts)

After writing up all of this into blog posts and trying to only post a small subset of the large set of photos (about 600) I am realizing how much I was actually able to see in just one day.   (This is probably the huge advantage of visiting a small country so rich in history) I hope you have enjoyed these “touristy” pictures…because I really enjoyed being the “tourist”.

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Let’s finish all of this with Caesarea…  a city that was built by Herod in 22-10 B.C.   Herod named both the city and the harbor after Caesar Augustus…  (The port was named Sebastos which is Caesar in Greek).


The first place we visited was the theater.  I was surprised to learn that it is still actually being used for plays and concerts.  They have resurfaced the top of the seats but the rest is “kind of” in its original state.  I am trying to imagine going to a concert or play and on the way in passing actual antiquities.  You enter by a Vomitorium which is not what it sounds like… that is just what they called the entrances or exits.   I can’t imagine sitting in a theatre that dates back to such ancient times… very cool!

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Behind the theater is what I am going to call a “column graveyard”.  I am hoping that this is their way of showing what has been excavated and not the result of some out of hand rock concert in the theater.

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My favorite column top… The “sad lion” column. (not sure where this one fits in the classical Greek orders… Doric, Ionic, Corinthian… but it is my favorite).   Next we move to Herod’s palace.  He placed it between the theater and the hippodrome…   (Entertainment is important for men…kind of like have to big screen TVs on each side of his house).  There is not much left of his palace.   The materials were recycled into other buildings during later times.

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Here is the palace pool… wouldn’t expect anything less

On the plane ride over to Israel I watched Ben-Hur… so when I saw a hippodrome before me that movi’es chariot races came to my mind and I walked through augmenting all that I was seeing with what I had seen in the movie.  I would love to see an actual chariot race.  (I wonder if there was as much death and maiming in the real races)

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This last picture you can see the starting gates behind a statue that loosely resembles a chariot being pulled by three horses… (I can only imagine bringing someone back from that time and them saying what the heck is that…)  There was something also interesting about this hippodrome.  This hippodrome was covered over with pottery and rubble and another much larger one was built just a little more inland.   The excavators left a small square so you can see what they had to remove.

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Next… the port…   This port was almost completely washed away so you are only able to see what remains on the south side along with a crusaders tower.  I think that tower use to be a light house and was changed to be a fort by reinforcing it with parts of the surrounding buildings.  If you look closely at the picture (the building with the green naked guy in front of a building) you will see columns laid down in the walls.. .I imagine this was done to add strength.

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They were actively excavating the port’s vaults…   (….little shovels and dust brushes) I wanted to stay and watch the process but I was on a “whirlwind” tour… and well they were not doing very much at all.

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Here is the Nymphaeum… hadn’t heard of that word… so in my mind this was a small pool “stocked” with very pretty naked women… I am sure I have to be somewhat correct right?

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Another column graveyard…   lots of marble and granite… which all would have been imported (you can’t find either in Israel)

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This outer wall is the last picture I will be sharing on Caesarea.   This is where I caught the bus and headed off for the other locations I visited.   This is also the last post of my “site seeing” day…  I will have one more general post on Israel with my kind of pictures. (you know the weird ones)

Weekend and Work Travel (Part 3 – Acre)

Acre (Akko)

The secrets of the city above and the city below.

-some… Tourist Brochure

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Part 3 of my site seeing day is in Acre (Akko).   I “quoted” the tourist brochure because in Acre you will see an old city with an even older city buried below. (and because it is much more clever than anything I would have written)   The city below  is a preserved (brochure stated “perfectly”… but that is not completely accurate) Crusader city and you can witness all of the efforts that have been made to unearth it and bring it back to life.  You can also witness the influence of the city’s conquerors and their religions.  (Canaanites, Romans, Crusaders, Turks, and British)

I am going to try to offer a quick glimpse of the Acre through my pictures…  but I first I want to jump to my favorite place…   Latrine Hall

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I love this image…   “Ummm…. Are you looking at me?”….

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You will note that all of the toilets are placed in two rows… and the actual places you sit are “face to face”… kind of curious…but what I found even more fascinating… This “Latrine Hall” was were double deckered.  You are looking at the lower hall and there was a hall right above it.   Not sure I would have wanted to use the lower hall.   Oh ya… they used rain water to flush the waste down below into a large cavern… (This is a very dry place… and I imagine that their  “rain based flushing” was a very infrequent thing…   another reason not to use the lower hall)

Here are the rest of the pictures… hope you enjoy.

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Entry into the old city

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The fist courtyard is an amazing place to sit… not only because of it’s beauty but because of the shade

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This stairway was completely buried and if I remember correctly in 2000 they started to excavated this area

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From this new level (old city level) you can enter the buildings.   Entering these old buildings is amazing!   In the pictures you will be able to tell “original” from the new based upon how smooth the stones are.

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We walked a long tunnel from one hall to another leading to an ancient church.  This part is probably the only uncomfortable part of the walk… (especially if you are claustrophobic)

In these pictures you will note the Ottoman empire influence on the city of Acre… including a clock tower… not sure what the clock towers have to do with Ottoman but this is the second one that I have seen in Israel attributed to the Ottomans… the other one I saw was in Jaffa.

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That small island was called “Island of the Flies”…   wonder why?


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Lunch…. I had a shawarma…


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I will end with this tree…. look closely it is half embedded into the wall yet has a beautiful top…   fascinating!   I have one more post on my site seeing day in Israel… please come back.  (By the way Isabelle… Napoleon was unable to conquer Acre!!!)

Weekend and Work Travel (Part 2 – Haifa)


I was told that in Jerusalem you pray… in Tel Aviv you play… and in Haifa you work. (I was kind of disappointed that it didn’t rhyme).   Haifa is the third largest city in Israel and this is a continuation of a single day’s worth of whirlwind site seeing.  If you haven’t read part 1 you can read it  at Weekend and Work Travel (Part 1)

I didn’t get to spend much time in Haifa… just 30 minutes and they were all spent looking down at the Bahai Gardens.   What an amazing site to see….  not only can you see the gardens but you have a fantastic view of the city and the port.  Before I share those pictures… here is one for my wife.

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This is not a great picture… but Haifa has an Ikea… (took this through the window as we drove by)

Now… to the Gardens… The Bahai gardens are known as the “hanging gardens of Haifa” These terraced gardens surround the Shrine of Báb.   When I was told this… I thought  it was the “shrine of Bob”…  a much funnier name.   I am not very familiar with the Bahai religion but I can tell you that their gardens are breathtaking.

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Here is the gate at the top of the gardens.  I could not get an unobstructed view so I took just the top part of the gate.   There is something intriguing about the white glass ball and the iron work around it.   Fantastic Gate!… I think this could be a new love affair… I am very fond of this gate.  (It was also awesome because our guide got in a huge argument with the guard at the gate… our guide left us while yelling… “I will not take responsibility for all of these people… they are adults…. You are all being insulted by this guard”)

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As you enter you view all of the “levels”…. and how the gardens are immaculately groomed.  You will also note the incredible view of the city below.   This would be an amazing place to have a drone camera.

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The gardens have really interesting places to explore and even share a romantic moment.  This couple was enjoying one of those “romantic” moments until they realized I was lurking in the back of this tunnel trying to take a picture of that “moment”

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Is it weird taking a picture of someone you don’t know who is taking a picture of someone else?… and would it be weirder if they didn’t’ know each other?  (I wanted to ask if they knew each other… but I talked myself out of it… would have been too hard to explain why I was asking)

It is getting late so I am going to share two last pictures and while I do that… I will be wishing that I was a better photographer… My pictures just don’t seem to do this place justice.

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Please stay near…. Part 3 will be coming soon!