A trip to the Holy Land
In 2010 we visited Israel.
I had wanted to visit Israel for a long time. This was partly because my father was based in the area in his army days. He had served there right at the end of the British Mandate in 1946 and 1947 just before the creation of the state of Israel in 1948.
He appears in the photograph below which dates from 1946.
We flew to Tel Aviv on British Airways and spent some time in that city before heading, by train, to stay for a few days in Jerusalem. Whilst in Jerusalem we went into the Palestinian territories to visit Bethlehem and out to the Dead Sea and the Masada. We returned to Tel Aviv for a few more days and whilst there made trips by train to Jaffa and to Haifa.
It was a fascinating trip and it was full of rich experiences.
Here are just 13 of them –
1 – The beach at Tel Aviv
It was December but there were plenty of people on the beaches swimming, drinking and eating. The sunset was spectacular.
2 – The Sabbath
We arrived on Saturday and it was interesting to see Tel Aviv come back to life after the sun completely set.
A week later on Friday afternoon we witnessed the preparations for the shutdown including the Rabbis going through the markets encouraging everyone to start packing up.
3 – The Bauhaus architecture in Tel Aviv
The city grew in the 1930s just at the time when many talented Jewish architects were being expelled from Germany. The city has a lot of Bauhaus buildings in various states of repair as well as a fascinating museum on the subject.
4 – The best sandwich in the world
Or at least in Tel Aviv!
The sabich is roast aubergine, boiled egg, potato salad, hummus, pickles and spicy sauce served in a pita bread. Outstanding !
5 – The Markets
Including putting a picnic together from food bought at the markets
6 – Trains
Travelling by train around the country and visiting the Israeli Railway museum at Haifa.
Many of the modern trains are German. Germany offered trains as reparations after the war and Israel has ordered more since.
7 – The Immigration Museum
The Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum at Haifa tells the story of immigration into Israel during the British Mandate. It was a little personal for me as it involved my father’s role in the whole business. Obviously this was not the UK’s finest hour. The security to get into the museum was tight and included a page-by-page check of my passport to make sure I had not visited any Arab countries.
8 – Not Floating in the Dead Sea
Unfortunately I just couldn’t manage it. I am not sure why not. I seemed to sink and got salt in my eyes.
9 – Yad Vashem
Memories of the Holocaust in Jerusalem. The Yad Vashem memorial deserves its incredible reputation.
The grave of Oskar Schindler is also very popular since the release of the film.
10 -The trip to Bethlehem
Experiencing the Israeli security inspection of the Arab bus on the way in, visiting the church where Jesus was born and then exiting via the Berlin-style wall. Also talking about the situation with both Palestinians and Israelis. A captivating subject but one that is certainly best not discussed here.
11 – Sacred Site
Visiting the sacred sites of the three Abrahamic religions in Jerusalem. The Wailing Wall, the Via Dolorosa and the Temple on the Rock.
12 – The Masada
The ancient Jewish fortress sacked by the Romans and now reached by a cable car.
13 – The food
We had some fabulous meals. We ate superb falafel, amazing humus, wonderful salads, mouth watering pastries and the beer wasn’t bad either.