Israel – Eilat, beach town at the Red Sea

After a long drive trough the Negev desert along the Jordan border, the road ends in Eilat at the Red Sea.

It appears as holiday destination like so many others on this world. Israeli and tourists all over the world coming here for some relaxing days, parties or a foodie weekend at the sea.

There’s not much more than the beaches in front of big hotels, food courts and bars. The landscape around is stunning tho. If you get on an elevated point you can overlook the Red Sea and its riparian states, Israel, Jordan, Saudi Arabia and Egypt. All within a coastline of approximately 35 km.

The Wall – Art between Israel and Palestine

„There’s a sniper observing the area“ the Palestinian guide was pointing to the watchtower at the wall corner.

From there, a huge wall expands on both directions. This wall, also known as West Bank Barrier , was build by Israel for security reasons, as they claim. For the Palestinians it’s rather an act of segregation and further restriction of their freedom.

On the Palestinian side, it became a canvas for graffiti art. Palestinian and international artists put their messages and art on it, making it a huge board of resistance and shout for more freedom and peace.

Palestine – Bethlehem, Banksy and Jesus

There’s quite a controversy about the birthday of Jesus. While some historian beliefs it was actually in Nazaraeth, where he supposed to spend also his youth, other stays with the place written in the Gospels: Bethlehem.

After entering the city trough heavy guarded check-points, we stopped at one of the best known graffiti by the anonymous artist Banksy.

‚The Flower Thrower‘

The main program lead to the spot where, according to the gospels and the belief of christians, Jesus was born in a little shack. Around this place a big church with several units and chapels were build.

This Church Of The Nativity has different section according to different Christians churches, similar like the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Old Jerusalem. And like there, here too they have this agreement of ‚Staus Quo‘.

Palestine – Ramallah with Arafat Mausoleum

Palestine. Of course i wanted have at least a glimpse over the walls. To get an own picture of their life and get an idea of the region, its history and its inhabitants.

It was the easiest way to book a tour from Jerusalem. Fortunately the tour guide was a Palestinian who joined the tour bus after the border. He arrived late at the meeting point and gave us already a first idea about the life here. Despite he startet his ride of around 50km to Ramallah two hours earlier, he got stocked at a check-point, where they blocked the road for unknown reasons. We, the tourists, had to wait on a small coffee shop. It gave me the chance to go around the streets to collect first impressions of Ramallah.

Market places are always nice to get in touch with the locals. That was also the first stop in Ramallah. I was surprised about the openness of the people and how friendly they were. They gave me a wink, showed me their display or just smiled friendly. The same in the streets, where sellers were keen to explain what goods, spices or beverages they sell. Most attention caught the guy who sold iced tea in a very effective way.

Once in Ramallah, we also had a short visit to the Arafat Mausoleum. Although Yasser Arafat, the first president of the Palestinian National Authority, wanted to be buried near the Al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, the Israeli government didn’t allow it. To his honor , the nobel peace prize holder at least got his mausoleum in Ramallah with lots of symbolics.

Israel – Jerusalem Ramparts Walk

It was a secret tip i read about: walk on the walls of Old City Jerusalem.

And indeed, it was a good advice.

Just behind the Jaffa Gate i got the tickets for the ramparts entrance, and some spicy breads to go. The city guide with his small electro car had no job for me, but had a small talk while he waited for other tourists.

Once up the wall, one get a very different view of Jerusalem, on both side of the wall. But at this point i let my images give you an impression of it.

Israel – Holy Places In Jerusalem (1/2)

Jerusalem isn’t that huge, but full of spots, which considered to be holy to religions as Jews, Christians and Moslems, and if you want so, also the many markets, which could be considered as places to worship the capitalism 😉

To visit most places and get more informations i joined a tour group for the day.. Tour guide Tania lead the group to the many interesting places. Starting in the Armenian quarter, stopping by at ancient Roman columns, we arrived one of the highlights on this tour. The Western Wall, also known as Wailing Wall!

The Jews coming here to pray, because it’s the closest spot to the former most holy place within the ancient temple. It’s not only a place to pray, but also to study and teach. A rabbi appears with a big group of young believers. A film team is following them. Seemed to be quite a famous guy.

Left to the open square, the wall continued behind a big gate into great halls, or tunnels respectively. More prayers inside there. To my surprise, there’s also a big library with books and texts to study.

On the top of the temple plateau lies not only the famous Dome of the Rock, but als the third important mosque of the islam, the Al-Aqsa mosque. There’s no way to get in for non-believers, but at least i got look on it and the square in front of.

Around the temple plateau are narrow streets with markets. Between all the tourists and local shoppers a procession of pilgrims carry a wooden cross along the Via Dolorosa.

I come trough one of the city gates past playing children. Outside are big cemeteries, jewish and muslim ones. Between them lies the Garden of Gethsename with its old olive trees. Just behind it the ascent of Mount of Olives starts. From the top is a stunning view back to the old city, the city wall and the temple plateau with the Dome of the Rock. But more about it tomorrow.

Israel – A Random Day In Jerusalem

Arriving on a new town i like to roam around randomly, drinking coffee in the streets, visiting a market place or hanging around a square and listen to the street musician. Just to get the vibes of the new place. Jerusalem was no exception in that.

The people were busy. Most of them. A few took their time to listen to the street music. Some homeless people were on the streets also, hoping for a Shekel or two, while a soldiers taking a cigarette break. Lots of security units on the squares anyway, but no ones seems to feel threatened or scared. In the opposite, all pretty relaxed and enjoying life. Even when a small demonstration passes by, chanting incomprehensible sayings and waving Ethiopian flags. All peacefully.

Without planning i ended up in the Old Town Jerusalem. Eventually i stood in front of the Western wall with the view of praying Jews and the Dome of Rock. Having already a glimpse on the main attractions of the city, i decided it’s enough for today and headed back to New Jerusalem on search of a tasty falafel meal.

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.

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…