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TelAviv Caesarea Akko Haifa Rosh Hanikra Golan Galilee The wedding Jerusalem Masada/Dead Sea Eilat Jordan

Saturday, April 23: Tel Aviv
We arrived in Tel Aviv on Saturday morning, April 23, or thereabouts, and cleared customs extremely efficiently. Everybody was required to get a Covid PCR and quarantine until the results were negative. There were 77 testing stations, so the entire process took about 10 minutes. Results were back in about 4 hours and we were ready to tour Israel.

Covid Testing

After getting our rental car, we limped to our hotel and took a nap. Our hotel is Fabric, a lovely, trendy, boutique hotel in the old fabric district of Tel Aviv. Here we are in the outdoor portion of the Fabric restaurant enjoying our complimentary cocktails. Our intrepid foursome is composed of Mike and Kathy, with Letti and the mad Russian Leonid (Lenny), both currently from Maine.

First Day Cocktails

Lots of choices for fun things to do.

Free Acid

We headed down to Yafo, or Jaffa where the ancient port is located, and had dinner. Traditional restaurant dinner starts with at least 20 salads on the table, all of them bottomless.

22 Salads

Sunday, April 24:
After winding through the Carmel market, we ended up on the beach. Tel Aviv is a party city, pretty much scorned by the ultra-religious, but not by us.

Mike and Kathy at Beach

Lenny and Letti smiling for the camera.

Lenny and Letti at Beach

Lenny cannot pass a Golden Retriever without saying hello.

Lenny with Golden Retriever

The perfect way to travel in Tel Aviv - fast and only a little dangerous.

Kathy on Scooter

The gay bar across the street from our hotel. It was hopping when we got back from dinner.

Gay Bar

Fabulous gelato cafe called Anita. They have one on the upper east side in NYC, also. Note the number of tasting spoons in Kathy's left hand.

Kathy tasting Gelato

Monday, April 25: Caesarea
After another spectacular breakfast in the hotel, we checked out and headed north for Caesarea, the incredible city and port built by Herod the Great. It was an engineering wonder, but all that is left of the port is behind Kathy. A vast amount of material was looted from the site to be used for other projects.

Caesarea Sign

2 beautiful girls under an arch at Caesarea.

Caesarea Girls under Arch

Taking a break on a marble column that was not carried off.

. Caesarea Mike and Kathy on Marble Column

No city would be complete without a hippodrome. Used for chariot races, gladiatorial combat, and other lethal stuff.

Caesarea Kathy at Hippodrome

Mike ready to mount his chariot, lol.

Caesarea Mike at Hippodrome

After soaking up beautiful Caesarea, we headed on up to Akko in the north of Israel. Called Acre by the Crusaders, this port is truly ancient. Our hotel is called Akotika and is located solidly in the Arab district, with very tight streets, and calls to prayer 5 times a day. The rooms are accessed from the street.

Akko Hotel Street

The rooms were beautiful, with a balcony overlooking the Mediterranean. Lenny's room had a Jacuzzi.

Akko Hotel Interior

Kathy standing on the balcony

Akko Kathy in Window

We made our way to a restaurant called Sama, which is Muslim-owned, but happily serves alcohol. Lenny is enjoying a fish cigar. Our waiter was Ibrahim, who dates a California Jew, and whose father owns the shop across the street where you can buy his homemade bongs. Ibrahim claims that the times they are a-changin'. We'll see.

Akko Lenny and Letti at Sama

Tuesday, April 26:
First morning in Akko. Another fantastic breakfast, with a view.

Akko Breakfast

Leaving our hotel rooms for our day on the town.

Akko Girls in Alley

The tiny "roads" are truly a maze and the GPS often failed because the roads were often covered, so we were often lost. This is a typical street scene. Cats are literally everywhere, by the thousands.

Akko Alley Scene

Trying to make sense of the map. Kathy and Letti were the navigators.

Akko Kathy and Letti studying map

In 2006, a local grandma was complaining about her toilet backing up. While investigating the sewer problem, the workers punched into a hollow area, which turned out to be an extensive tunnel built by the Templars in the 12th century, linking the Crusader Citadel to the waterfront. It was excavated and here we are in 2022 ready to go explore it.

Akko Kids in front of Tunnel

This is a section of the tunnel where it bifurcates into 2 tunnels. Amazing.

Akko Templar Tunnel

An anchor displayed in the courtyard of the Crusader citadel.

Akko Kathy Anchor

Beautiful eucalyptus trees in the garden at the citadel.

Akko Citadel Garden Tree

Another street scene in Akko.

Akko Street Scene

Kathy guiding us home.

Akko Kathy in the Street

Just when you think you've seen it all in Akko.

Akko Horse

We made our way from the Crusader citadel, the Turkish bath, and the synagogue down to the Pisan Harbor near our hotel. We had a traditional lunch with entertainment in the background.

Akko Lunch at Pisan Harbor

This was the entertainment - crazy local boys jumping off the wall, with running starts to make sure they cleared the rocks below.

Akko Kids jumping off Cliff

Wednesday, April 27: Haifa
We made the drive down to the other end of the giant semicircular by to Haifa, a fairly nondescript, but very busy port. We were interested in seeing the Bahai Temple and Gardens. Haifa has supplanted Akko (Acre) as the chief port in the north. There were dozens of ships waiting to load and unload.

Haifa Port

Looking down at the temple from above.

Haifa Port from Temple

Kathy at the lower level of the Bahai complex, temple above us.

Kathy at Bahai Garden

Bahai Symbol with the 5 pointed star.

Haifa Symbol

Two lovebirds at the temple.

Mike and Kathy at Bahai

Two more lovebirds, soon to be married.

Lenny and Letti Bahai

Standing on one of the many paths in the Bahai Gardens.

Mike and Kathy in Bahai Garden

Standing next to the Southwestern cactus.

Mike with cactus

Rosh Hanikra
Kathy read somewhere about the steepest cable car ride in the world somewhere around here, so we looked for it and found it. It is the site of a railway and bridge complex at Rosh Hanikra. Also at the site is a beautiful cave system called the grottos, carved out of the limestone by hundreds of thousands of years of pounding by the ocean.

Grottos 1

Kathy listening to the audio at one of the grottoes.

Kathy at Grottos

Another nice grotto.

Grottos 2

Thursday, April 28: Golan Heights
Holocaust Remembrance Day. At 10:00 a horn sounds throughout Israel and everybody stops what they are doing for 5 minutes. Very moving.

Holocaust Remembrance Day

We are now in the Golan Heights and these are serious mountains. Mt Herman is the tallest and has a ski resort. You can still see snow on the mountain now.

Mt. Herman

The headwaters of the Jordan River are formed from groundwater and snow melt. We visited the Banias tributary which is the largest of the headwaters. The Greeks developed the area in the 3rd century, BCE and dedicated a beautiful temple to the god Pan, hence the name Paneus. The Romans called it Caesareas Paneus, and the Moslems altered it to Banias. This is the beginning of the hike.

Upper section of Hike

This should have been the end of the hike - Lenny demonstrating the original use for a fig leaf.

Fig Leaf

The Banias tributary roars down the mountain. There is a suspended bridge that allows you to walk along the tributary.

Kathy on suspended bridge

The hike culminates at the waterfall.


The Nimrod fortress was built originally in the Hellenistic period and hugely expanded by Saladin's nephew to fight the crusaders. It was then captured by the Mongols, then retaken by the Mamluks. It was used by the Ottomans as a luxury prison for nobles. Here's whats left of a couple of the towers

Nimrod 1

The girls overlooking the valley. Extremely difficult to attack this place.

Girls overlooking Valley

Another side of the fortress overlooking the valley.

Nimrod Pano

The secret passage out of the fortress for escaping when all was lost.

Secret Passage

After touring the fortress, we headed into Galilee to Safed, traditionally a very hip artist community. Leonid was disappointed to find that there has been a huge influx of ultra-orthodox, displacing many of the artists. We met his friends from Safed, who had moved out of the main part of town for this reason. They gave us a tour of the old artist section.

Safed Lobby

Lenny in one of the streets in the old town.

Lenny in Safed

Beautiful view from the hotel overlooking the gorgeous mountains. Enjoying some Israeli wine.

Kathy and Mike at Dan Hotel

Friday, April 29: Sea of Galilee, Jordan River
Leaving Safed and continuing south, we arrived at the Church of the Multiplication, in Capernaum, where Christians believe that Jesus fed a group of 5000 with 7 loaves of bread and a few small fish. Mike and Kathy looking pretty well fed.

M&K at Sea of Galilee

Kathy at the Sea of Galilee.

Kathy at Sea of Galilee

Kathy awaiting a miracle under an olive tree.

Kathy under Olive Tree at Sea of Galilee

Lenny and Letti at Sea of Galilee. Lenny seems to have grown a horn. Hmmm.

L&L at Sea of Galilee

Heading South, we wanted to stop at a beach on the Sea of Galilee, and somehow we ended up at the ultra-orthodox beach, where men were separated from women. It was interesting, to say the least. Here's Lenny looking right at home.

Lenny at Hasidic Beach

Continuing our Christian tour, we went to the part of the Jordan River where Jesus was baptized by John the Baptist. Very beautiful spot.

Kathy at River Jordan

Mike and Kathy standing in the River Jordan. We took a pass on the full body baptism rite.

Kathy and Mike in River Jordan

Kathy read about the largest archaeological dig in Israel, and was determined to see it. It is called Beit She'an. We almost gave up trying to find it, but she persisted and we weren't sorry. It dates back over 6000 years and has 20 layers of remains from ancient civilizations. The Romans, of course, rocked the place. During their stint there, it had 30-40,000 residents, there was a spectacular colonnaded street, huge bathhouse complex, 3 tiered stadium seating 7000, over-the-top temples. Everything that followed kinda sucked, unfortunately.

Kathy and Letti at Ruins 2

Kathy and Letti at Beit She'an

The stainless steel columns are not original.

Kathy at Ruins

The Wedding
After touring Beit She'an, we headed toward Jerusalem to Kadma winery, owned by Lenny's friends, Lena and Vlad. She started the winery using traditional Georgian (they are from Russia) techniques. We cleaned up at their house and went out to a pre-wedding dinner. Here is the happy couple all aglow after a few drinks.

L&L at Dinner

And Letti looking radiant. She was obviously posing for a different photographer, lol.

Letti at Dinner Party

Saturday, April 30:
The wedding was a lovely combination of Jewish and Christian traditions. The veiled bride insisted on not being seen by the groom all day until she was escorted down the aisle by her uncle (cool Christian tradition). The (mostly Jewish) ceremony was conducted in English by Misha, a doctor acting as a rabbi. I found out later that he acted as a moyel for his own son. Ouch. The ceremony culminated in placing of the rings.

Lenny placing ring

Behind Lenny and Letti are Misha the rabbi (holding wine) and Lena, the founder of the winery. Her husband, Vlad, is partially seen.

Cutting Cake

Letti looks determined to get that piece of cake in Lenny's mouth.

Letti feeding Lenny Cake

End of the night. The A-list guests and hosts having a wonderful port from the winery.

End of the night

Sunday, May 1: Jerusalem
First stop King David's Castle, named by the Crusaders. It is actually King Herod's castle, but the name has stuck. Beautiful views of the old city. Dome of the Rock over Kathy's left shoulder.

View from King David's Castle

Kathy, Lenny, Letti's mom, and Letti at King David's Castle.

At King David's Castle

Kathy and Letti just inside the Jaffa Gate.

Kathy and Letty near Jaffa Gate

Market in the Christian Quarter

Jerusalem Christian Quarter Market

End of the road in the Christian Quarter. Beyond this I think is the mosque grounds and off-limits to non-moslems.

Christian Quarter End of the Road

Goofy tour train coming through historic Gate.

Tour train

Market in Moslem Quarter. Lots of military presence, unfortunately.

Machine Guns in the Market

Leonid and Sid at Wailing Wall. We put our prayers on paper and into the cracks. I prayed to win the lottery. Just kidding. Or am I?

Leonid and Sid at Wailing Wall

We spent some time in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. This is where tradition holds that Jesus was crucified, and where he was buried and resurrected. So it's pretty important to us goyim. The politics are complicated between the Greek Orthodox, Roman Catholic, and Armenian Apostolic, and to a lesser degree the Coptic Orthodox, Syriac Orthodox, and Ethiopian Orthodox, who all have rights to certain areas in the church. I think below is the Greek Orthodox area, but I'm not sure.

Sepulchre Greek

This is definitely the Armenian Apostolic area. Lots of burning incense.

Sepulchre Armenian

This is believed to be the site of Jesus' tomb. Long line of people, who appear to be Ethiopian Orthodox.

Site of Jesus' Tomb

A closer look at the line.

Waiting to Enter Jesus' Tomb

Monday, May 2: Masada and the Dead Sea
Today we head to the desert. First to Masada, the incredible fortress on the mountain built by Herod the Great. Here is Kathy in front of the visitors' center showcasing the desert with the Dead Sea in the background.

Kathy with Dead Sea

Here, the gang is heading up the side of the mountain to get to Herod's multi-level palace.

Kathy and Letti leading the way through Masada

Kathy and Letti at Masada

Making the climb on the side of the mountain to get to Herod's crazy palace. He must have walked this exact route.

Masada heading up to Herod's castle

Still trudging up the stairs. It's much scarier going back down the steps.

Still trudging uphill

OMG. More trudging. Keep those heads down, hikers.

The top of the climb. A reception deck. The palace is behind us carved into the mountain with multiple levels. Scary as hell.

Reception Area Herod's palace

Like I said, the trip down is easier, but a little unsettling.

Heading down the hill

After leaving Masada, we headed to the Dead Sea. There are several resorts. There seems to be lots of life at the Dead Sea.

Busy Dead Sea

Kathy floating high in the Dead Sea

Kathy floating

After our bracing dip in the Dead Sea, we headed to a kibbutz for the night. We got there pretty late, but they were kind enough to whip up some pizzas for us. They even brought a corkscrew for our wine. Our room came with a little mascot.


Tuesday, May 3: Heading to Eilat
Kathy spending a little down time before departure to Eilat

Kathy in Hammock

Time to go.

Kathy leaving kibbutz

We arrived in Eilat which is sort of a cross between Fort Lauderdale and Orlando. Nice beaches with reefs, which like reefs around the world, are very unhealthy. Here's Letti sporting mask and snorkel that Lenny bought us. Time to hit the reef.

Letti with mask

Lenny and Letti posing. Aqaba, Jordan is in the background. The one Lawrence of Arabia attacked.

L&L at beach

Pretty fancy hotel in Eilat. Unfortunately, we didn't discover the balcony with hot tub until 11:00PM.

Kathy in Hammock

Wednesday, May 4: Jordan
Cleared customs, ready to head into Jordan.

Kathy Ready to cross into Jordan

Kathy and Letti rode horses to the entrance. Leonid and Mike walked.

Kathy on Horseback

The intrepid crew heading toward Petra.

intrepid crew

The incredible canyon you must walk through to get to the city. All sandstone, with a manmade trench on either side carved into the wall to carry water into the city.

Canyon walk to Petra

Everybody loves the fish-shaped rocks. Dorky but kinda interesting.

Treasury with camels

The end of the canyon walk where it opens into the iconic treasury building, the most famous image of Petra.

end of the canyon walk

The treasury building at Petra. Everything, including the columns, carved out of the side of the mountain.


Lot of camels to ride at Petra.

Treasury with camels

Lots of ways to get around in Petra.


The whole gang up high overlooking the amphitheatre


An impressive collections of buildings carved into the mountain. Highly exposed and severely weathered away, but still cool.

Office Buildings

Our guide took us to a protected area where the sandstone is not exposed to the elements. This is what Petra looked like when it was carved. You can get this appearance about a centimeter under the surface of the rock. It's hard to imagine how beautiful the place must have been.

Original sandstone

After the tour of Petra, our guide invited us to his home where we were served a nice lunch. We ate on the floor, as is the custom. Not very comfortable, but nice.

Petra Lunch

Kathy with Nahoud's father, Mohammed.


Following our tour, we went to our Bedouin encampment for some true glamping. The tents were pretty luxurious and in a beautiful setting.


Thursday, May 5:
Next morning, bright and early, off for our camel ride in the desert.

All 4 on camels

Kathy with our guide.

Kathy and Camel Guide

Kathy on her mount

Kathy's Camel

Kathy amused. Our tents are in the background.

Kathy on camel laughing

Old Ottoman train.

Old Ottoman train

Lunch in Aqaba before heading back to Ailat.

Lunch in Aqaba

Friday, May 6:

Time to head back to Tel Aviv. We're traveling through a pretty brutal desert. We stopped in a kibbutz type place that specialized in raising goats and making goat cheese. We bought lunch there and some cheese. The goat Gouda was the best.

Buying Goat Cheese

Having our lunch.

Lunch at the Goat Farm

Can't resist a good sign post.


Kathy feeding the goats.

Feeding the goats

A fitting end to our trip. Sunset over the Mediterranean from the balcony of Misha the Rabbi's beautiful apartment in Tel Aviv. He and his family graciously fed us an incredible dinner, then allowed us to stay the night, at least until 3AM when we had to get up to go to the airport.