Tel Aviv

Shalom,

It’s my last night “alone” in Israel. It seems unbelievable that I arrived here 36 nights ago. How fast does the time fly!

I have been in Tel Aviv for four days now, but am still a bit confused about the map. :) The hostel I live in is right at the beach and what a wonderful beach it is! The sand is soft and white and the waves are amazing. I’ve done some shopping and otherwise just been wondering around the city. It gets really, really hot in the daytime and even now sitting on the hostel rooftop at 21pm, it’s a little bit hot. But I have to say I love the cooling sea breeze.

Two kittens are living here on the hostel’s common area, the roof top. I think they are sisters, about four months old and I’ve no idea how did they end up here. I’ve been feeding them every morning and evening and I’m a little worried what will happen to them when I leave, because they seem really hungry. They are very shy and don’t allow anyone to touch them, but I’ve noticed they recognize me as the ‘person with the food’, because they run to me and start screaming when I come to the rooftop. In Tel Aviv there seems to be a lot of cats living in the streets.

One thing I don’t understand about Israel: the motorcycles. They drive on sidewalks (both directions), even through the RED lights. It seems like they don’t have any regulations at all.. Here in Tel Aviv it’s even worse than Jerusalem. When you come to Israel, you really shouldn’t worry about anything else, but please, keep your eye on the motorbikes!! I know in Finland I’m always complaining about people driving their bikes (really fast) on the sidewalks. But this is a totally new thing to me: motor vehicles without any rules. Huh!

I’ve been thinking about the best things I’ve experienced in Israel and I’ve come up with my own personal top 10:

10. Smoothies and fresh juices. For a few euros you can get a fresh squeezed orange juice, nam! It tastes so good in the heat!

9. Gay Parade in Tel Aviv. I’m so glad I went to see this event. Can you imagine thousands of people dancing and enjoying themselves on the streets. Neither could I before I saw it! Absolutely fabulous.

8. Light rail (tram) in Jerusalem. Very convenient, very cool and cheap way to get around. Love it! The transport system is also otherwise very good in Israel and also really cheap. Trains go on time and are very comfortable (VR, be aware).

7. Holocaust Museum Yad Vashem in Jerusalem and especially the video library. The museum is very well done and situated in a beautiful, peaceful place on Mount Herzl.

6. City of Haifa in general. It’s such a quiet, peaceful city compared to Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. It’s hard to describe why, but it’s my favorite city in Israel. Bahia Gardens are a must-see there.

5 Beach in Tel Aviv. It’s clean, it’s white, it’s soft. Waves are amazing. Sunset is beautiful. What else could you possible want.

4. Hostel Fauzi Azar Inn in Nazareth. The best hostel I’ve ever been to and the best three nights I had in Israel. Think of an old arab mansion with high ceilings and an amazing patio. But you have to go see it yourself!

3. Otters at Haifa Zoo. You can’t look the little cuties without smiling.

2. Kittens at the roof top of Beachfront Hostel. If I could, I’d take them home with me.

1. All the wonderful people I’ve met and gotten to know in the hostels, in the tram, in the train, on the streets, on the beach. The people who invited me to their homes. Thank You for making my trip unforgettable!

Tomorrow my dear Anttu arrives to Tel Aviv and we’ll be moving into a hotel nearby. So my 5,5 weeks living in hostel dorms are ending soon. Can’t say I’m sad. :) And there’s still one more week to see the wonders of Israel!

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Haifa

So I left the busy Jerusalem two days ago and arrived in Haifa, the third biggest city i Israel. I have to say I like it here. It’s so relaxed and easy compared to Jerusalem. The weather is also hotter and really humid! Haifa is situated in a hill so they have a nice little subway, Carmelit, to take you up and down the hill. There’s a great view over Haifa near the highest station. There’s also a lovely park and zoo I visited today. My favorites were certainly the otters, funny little things. :)

Yesterday I took the tour of the most famous attraction in Haifa, the Bahai Gardens. Bahai is a religion, which emphasizes that all of us, as creations of one God, are part of one human family. Bahai religion’s holy places Bahai Gardens and Shrine of the Bab are really beautiful and situated in the hillside so they look amazing whether you look them from up or down.

I’ve also done some shopping here and the prices seem to be a bit lower than in Jerusalem. I stay in a nice little hostel called the Port Inn. It’s perfectly situated near the railway and subway stations, but still on a peaceful place. There’s also a lovely little garden here with the cutest cats.

Tomorrow I’m traveling to Tel Aviv, where I will stay until I fly back home. But that’s still almost two weeks away…

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Visiting Hebron, Ein Gedi and Masada

Shalom!

It’s my last night in Jerusalem and I’d like to share the highlights of my week with you .

Last Saturday I went to see the weekly Ultra-Orthodox protest nearby. It was kind of interesting stuff. Ultra-Orthodoxes don’t want people to drive cars on Sabbath so they south “sabesh, sabesh” (=sabbath in jiddish) on the street and try to stop cars from driving. Sometimes they are known to be violent and even throw stones, but this time everything was quite peaceful.

This week I also took two interesting walking tours, one in the old city and one in the Olive Mountain, which has an amazing view all over the city. These tours basicly covered all the most important religional places in Jerusalem. Church of the holy Sepulchre was full of people as usual and people were lining up to touch Golgata. It was also interesting to go to the Temple mountain and see the Dome of the rock closeby, because sometimes it’s really difficult to get inside this muslim holy area. I also visited the Western Wall once again. Somehow I don’t easily find the religious spirit in these huge crowds and inside the crowded churches. For me spiritual experience is something else. If I have a chance I’d rather enjoy (or photograph) a smile of a child than an ancient stone wall.

One-day visit to Hebron on Westbank was really interesting, but also kind of sad experience. There are about 500 jewish settlers in Hebron and about 2000 soldiers to keep them safe! There’s a constant battle betveen palestinian majority and the jewish settlers and both sides blame the others for harrassing them. Hebron is divided to two sides and basiclyly palestinians live in the other side and jewish in their own side. In Hebron you can see a street with all shops closed because of constant terror and danger. What would be the way for Hebron people to live in peace, who knows..

I spent one day of this week in a tour to Masada, Ein Gedi and Dead Sea. Masada is anancient fortress on a high cliff in a Judaean Desert . You can reach Masada either by hiking to a huge cliff (no way!) or take a cable car with very nice views. I did the last one. Ein Gedi is a natur reserve with refreshing waterfalls to swim in (first time for me :)). You can also see some animals, if you’re lucky. Dead Sea was our last stop of the day. I spent the whole two hours lying in a lovely children’s pool (with several other adults) and enjoying the non-salty experience.

Today I decided to visit the Holocaust museum again, because last time I somehow missed the Children’s memorial. I also saw two movies for the first time: Schindler’s list and La Vita ‘e Bella, both of them were amazing. I also watched a very interesting document based on diaries of the young people in Holocaust. As I told you before, the Yad Vashem Visual library is huge, I could easily spend many days there watching the material they have. Also the outside area of the museum is very beautiful and peaceful in contrast to the horrors of Holocaust.

Good night from Jerusalem!


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Children of Nazareth

Children of Nazareth

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Jerusalem light festival

Jerusalem light festival

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Enjoying Nazareth

Hello,

So I spent two days and three nights in a lovely Fauzi Azar Inn and visited the most important sites – mainly churches – in Nazareth. There was also a free tour from the hostel to take us to the attractions people usually wouldn’t go, like the carpente’rs shop. One evening me and two guys went to have a huge dinner with different kind of meats and all kinds of small dishes in one of the restaurants in the “city”.

One afternoon I was trying to find the Church for Mensa Christi when I met a nice woman on the street. She was from Israel, but now living in US and just visiting her parents. We started talking and the next thing she asked me to visit her parents’ home nearby and we had a lovely afternoon looking pictures and talking about our countries. I also met her parents, who were extremely nice people and we all  had lunch together. These kind of things never happen in Finland!

The visit to Nazareth really felt like a mini-vacation. After returning to Jerusalem yesterday morning I notice the weather had gotten hotter here. I decided to visit the Bloomfield Science museum and its exhibits. Museum was quite nice even though it was mostly for children. Israli children seem to be really loud so it was lot of action in the museum…

Next week I hope to travel to Hebron, Masada and Ein Gedi. :)

Sabbath Shalom from Jerusalem!

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Nazareth and the Fauzi Azar Inn

Merhaba!

I just arrived to Nazareth today and I’m already in love with this place! The hostel I’m living in is called Fauzi Azar Inn. It’s an old arab mansion with high ceilings in every room, decorated with fine paintings. There’s a lovely patio, a fountain and a balcony with a view over the whole city. I’m living in a luxurious “dorm” room, but there’s only one woman in the same room with me and it’s really more like a big hotel room. Except the hotel rooms aren’t this beautiful and cosy.

The bus trip from Jerusalem was about two hours and the bus was very modern. There was only one problem: I forgot to take the map of Nazareth with me so I didn’t really know where the hostel was located. I thought Nazareth is a small village so everybody could tell me where the hostel was.. Well, I thought wrong. Nazareth has actually 65 000 people, just checked from wikipedia. When I stepped out of the bus I had no idea where I was and where the hostel would be. I tried to ask some people for advice but they didn’t speak english and the ones that did, didn’t know where the hostel was! After a while I luckily found a person who showed me to the right direction and after a while of wandering criss-cross in the old city I finally found this place.

After having a lovely chat in the patio with a hungarian man and an american young man (these chats with people from all over the world are one of the best things of this journey) I decided to walk around. After the busy and noisy Jerusalem, Nazareth feels like a quiet haven. :) I visited the most important attraction of Nazareth, Basilica of the Annunciation. It’s a beautiful church and I happened to get there just in time for a catholic prayer time, so I attended. There’s gonna be some more happenings in the church in the next few days and since I’m staying for three nights I’ll definitely go there again.

Yesterday I attended the Jerusalem light festival in the old city. They had made some interesting light installations, circus and music around old city and a lot of people had come to watch it. I also met a nice woman there, who works to help the stray cats of Jerusalem by feeding and spaying them. Since we were near her home in a jewish quarter, she asked me to visit and see her five kittens she saved from the streets. Oh my, they were so cute! On of them was still so small she had to feed it with a bottle of milk. It’s wonderful there are people out there who take care of these – often starving and sick -animals of the streets. While writing this I’m missing my own cuties at home, happy that they are in a good and loving care.


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Party in a Georgian restaurant

Party in a Georgian restaurant

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Children in Ramallah

Children in Ramallah

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Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade

Tel Aviv Gay Pride Parade

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