Israel – Shushan Purim Jerusalem 2023

It’s just happened i was in Jerusalem while the celebration of the Jewish holidays of Shushan Purim.

Already in the outskirts of Jerusalem i’ve seen people with masquerades, funny vehicles and music instruments . I’m told to go to the centre where in the pedestrian zones some street parties going on. Although the holidays are more than only the party and dancing, that’s a most awaited part of it. For more information about the origin of Purim read here!

I was wandering trough the crowd, dancing to music, watching the performances and just enjoy happy people around me …and took a lot of pictures from happy people….

Israel – Nazareth And The Basilica Of Annunciation

When in Nazareth, one can’t miss a visit in the Basilica of the Annunciation.

Entering that huge church, a big hall surrounded a deepened grotto. To my surprise not many people are in there right now. Just a few believers who taking pictures and send short prayers towards that holy place. Some murmurs coming from a dark corner. Praying believers gathered in a side chapel. Over my head i noticed a big round opening. Just then i realized there’s a second floor.

On the upper level of the church are more groups. Some of them taking group photos, while others just went silence in prayers. I was hoping to hear the huge organ with its tall pipes, it stayed silent too. On the other end of the church was to admire a big window with colorful glasses, showing saints and stories from the bible.

Out in the streets again it was time to find a place for overnight. Small alleys lead me trough a market area with all small shops closed down. What’s happened here, i ask later a local guy. The capitalism is destroying the market here, he said. All are going to the big shopping malls nowadays. Even here in Nazareth. The small shops can’t barely survive, if at all.

The hostel i found is a gem. In old walls are rooms for guests, but the best is the lovely courtyard with lounge. Another traveler was playing a drum when i sat down for a short rest. We shared some experiences and talked about further travel plans. But soon we also got in more philosophical topics. I’m not saying we found out the meaning of life. But at least we agreed, that meeting new, open minded people, sharing and learning from each other and having time for yourself to reflect, is was making us humans.

Israel – The Nazareth Village

An open-air museum shows the life at time of Jesus.

Israel – Sea Of Galilee

Very calm and quite lies the Sea of Galilee in front of me. To my surprise i was almost alone on the shore and enjoyed the calm atmosphere here.

The village Capernaum was already mentioned in the bible and supposed to be a place where Jesus lived and thaught his disciples. Here you could imagine, how he went out with them in a fisher boat, and eventually even walked on water. It was enough for me to walk on the pier, but started to consider to hike the gospel trail, which starts in Nazareth and ends here in Capernaum.

But not this time. Then a few kilometer further south i reached Tabgha with the church of multiplication, also known as the church of ‚the loaves and fish‘. That’s the place where Jesus supposed to feed the crowd of 5000 people by multiplying five loaves of bread and two fishes.

The amount of busses all around this church let me think they try this wonder again by gathering 5000 tourist here. Groups after groups arriving, squeezing themselves trough the entrance, praying, singing …and making selfies.

But then a wonder happened indeed. Suddenly I found myself alone in that relatively small church. While i still could hear some rustling murmurs from outside, i enjoyed the calmness for a few minutes inside the cool church.

My last stop at the lake was in Tiberias with his rich history. Nowadays a holiday spot and resting place for pilgrims. Along the lake promenade are cafes, shops and guys shouting out for a short boat trip on the holy Sea of Galilee.

Israel – The Golan Heights

Actually belongs the Golan Heights still to Syria. Since the occupation from Israel in the „Six-Day War“ it was never recognized internationally as part of Israel. But due its strategically importance, the latter never gave it back.

Despite the politically situation, the Golan Heights are known for its beautiful landscape and wonderful views.

Frankly, i’ve been too curious for both reasons. How it looks there, and is any tension to feel or to see when i travel there.

I started very early in the morning from the coast and headed straight to a point, which was marked in my map as memorial and picnic spot in the heights. An old tank was displayed there and some boards telling the stories of the battle in the ‚Six-Dax War‘.

I was honestly disappointed from the view there. Not only was it bit hazy, but also couldn’t see really far.

There was another mark on the map. Merom Golan, it says, was also a picnic spot or so. As i arrived there another ten minutes driving, it turned out as holiday resort. I turned my car at the security gate. Just few hundreds meters back heads a steep, winding road to the top of Mt. Bental with a wonderful lookout westwards over rolling hills of Golan.

On the very top, the view opens to south and east. A big, green valley lies in front, with a few wind mills and small lakes. At the horizon raises big, snowcapped mountains. Mount Hermon, as i found out, is 2’814m asl and already at Libanon – Syria border.

The peak of of Mt Bental is full of old bunkers, ditches and combat positions. It’s nowadays an open air museum, but no doubt, they would put it back into operation and reinforce it, whenever the situation get tense again.

I decided to travel along the ‚buffer zone‘ to the Gamla nature park and have a short hike there. But on my way i got stopped by some military road block, who asked me to turn around, since that road is temporarily closed. As if to underline the soldiers words, a big bang from artillery echoes trough the air. They’re on a training or maneuver, always ready to strike again.

On my way back i saw big trucks parking, ready to take tanks to move them from one spot to another. I rather took a look back to the beautifully and peacefully mountains on the other side.

Old Akko – A Stroll Trough History

The next morning I returned to the old city centre of Akko/Acre.

Some remains in the old town are still witnesses from the past centuries. A combined ticket for the most interesting, historical sites brought me across the city.

Most fascinating for me was the Templar Tunnel, which leads 150 meter long under the old city and was used from the crusaders. It was only recovered in the 1990′ by coincidence.

But most surprising was the citadel of the crusaders, with its knights halls, hospice and many more buildings. The remains are nowadays under the later build city. So, a self guided tour brought under the streets and opened up ancient streets, walls, churches and so on.

There was also a museum about a Turkish bath, known as hammam. In the different room are statues and video explanations to show the history of this particular hammam and how these bathrooms works in general.

The Ramhal synagoge is famous for its earlier Rabbi Moshe Chaim Lozato, who’s a very important religious leader and academic.

In the city wall is one more museum. It exhibits a collection of everyday objects, tools, but also clothes and jewelry from the begin of modern Israel.

Within The Mighty Walls of Akko

Akko, also known as Acre, has a rich history for around 5000 years. Many folks and and groups fought for it, because of its strategic location at the sea with a calm bay.

However, who is interested in history, please use the link provided (as usual 😉 )

My first day in Akko startet with a little breakfast surprise from my host. After that first coffee i was ready to explore the strong city walls and the areas within.

In the morning i found it quite empty. Happily, i walked around, found some small alleys, walked trough the market or watched the kids playing soccer between the mighty walls. Sometimes a stop for a coffee or a small bite. Just enjoying myself and imagine the life in times of the crusaders…

Haifa, Israel – The Hanging Gardens Of Baha’i

My plan was a nice picnic and some rest in the famous gardens of Baha’i.

The Hanging Gardens of Baha’i are on the slopes of Carmel mountains and overlooking Haifa and its bay.

They surrounds the Shrine of Bab, where the founder of the Baha’i Faith is buried.

Unfortunately, only a small part of the gardens are open for the public. The shrine itself was not to enter.

However, i could had a little stroll in quite, peaceful surroundings and took some picturres.

Caesarea Maritima, Israel – Ancient Roman Life At The Sea

It’s not the most impressive Roman remains. Neither by its size, nor its preservation or buildings. The location is it, what makes it for a nice stop on my way up north along the coast.

And the location gave this town also the name: Caesarea Maritima For more details to its history follow the link i provide.

Altough there was already a few bus loads of tourists, the site wasn’t overrun. At the amphitheatre, overlooking the sea, a group of young Americans sang even a few short songs for the audience. I enjoyed it with the crowd, but later i went my own way.

The trick is, to bring patience and let pass the tour groups, try to move between the groups and find farther niches, which let me imagine how the life was around 2000 years ago.

Looking over the mosaic floor trough the archway and stepping out on the terrace to catch some sea breeze. Life wasn’t that bad here 2000 years ago…

Tel Aviv – Beachlife

Talking about beaches i’d rather prefer a lonely spot under a palm tree, where i could read and enjoy a sea breeze.

The city beaches of Tel Aviv are certainly different. That means not less interesting. In the opposite, it’s not even mainly a beach to sunbathe and for swimming. The latter is officially forbidden on many stretches anyway. But it’s the place to meet people, going for a run or any other sporty activity, including playing ball sports with friends.

On a Shabbat, the Judaism day of rest, commonly known as Saturday, the public transport aren’t working and most shops, bars and restaurants are closed as well. The beaches, on the other hand, are always open. So they become the meeting points. People come with friends or family to picnic, roam in the park, listen to street musician or gathering for whatever their interest is.

A group placed a huge tripod on a place, attached ropes and rings on it and started doing acrobatic performances for the spectators.

A bit further i heard drums and followed the beat sound. At least a half dozen men practicing Capoeira, the Afro-Brazilian martial art, where the participants rather dance than really fight. It looks spectacular anyway.

More peaceful sounds from a saxophonist, who’s sending the descending sun his last greetings.

It doesn’t mean the day comes to an end quickly now, but while in some places another party starts, i join a group of sunset watchers on a quite corner and look back on another beautiful day in Tel Aviv.