I am a senior writer for Weekend Notes, a copywriter, editor, published poet and former editor of poetry magazine Fruit Salad. I have also authored children's fiction and inspirational pieces.
Published September 7th 2016
Hot, emotional & wonderful
The Mt of Olives & the Dome of the Rock to the right.
The Middle Eastern man indicated that I should crawl through a small tunnel to touch the stone underneath. It was advised by my guide through the Old City, that I must tip for the privilege. It was in the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem where some believe Christ was buried, though I found a sense of joy in the Garden Tomb.
It was also free to enter.
The Garden Tomb, Jerusalem.
I'm not stingy, though I did accidentally bargain for a stunning opal at the Jaffa Gate. I explained to the vendor that I couldn't afford the necklace piece. Out came his calculator and I was offered a lower price. Eventually, we reached an agreement. The handsome Armenian smiled, wagged his finger at me and said, 'You are very nice, but you are not easy', which was when I realized I'd been bargaining.
Watching rabbis dancing and singing at the Wailing Wall was an unexpected thrill. I wanted to join in but the 'Kotel' area is segregated. I left my folded-up prayer request in between the stones of the wall on the 'female' side of the wall. Old fashioned of me perhaps, but I prayed for a husband. So far it has gone unanswered. Israeli police and military are obliging with photo ops.
Celebrations at the Wailing Wall, Jerusalem.
The first sight of the Old City of Jerusalem will thrill your soul.
In the Old City of Jerusalem, steeped in history, you are surrounded by beautiful ancient buildings, regular miraculous occurrences, powerful spice aromas and many races of people of varying religious backgrounds. The cobblestone streets are well worn. The Via Delorosa is the pathway taken by Christ as he carried the cross to Golgotha. The Stations of the Cross are a must to experience and to learn more of that once-in-history event. Market shopping is everywhere offering a wide assortment of food, clothing, accessories and souvenirs. Meals at good prices can be found and you can compare international flavours and dishes. The Tower of David Museum is fascinating and feels as if people from the past are still present.
The famous Dome of the Rock and Al Aqsa Mosque should be visited with care and only with a tour group. You will be evicted if your mouth is seen moving as this is seen as potentially praying, which is forbidden. One of the oldest examples of beautiful Islamic architecture, the shining dome tops an octagonal structure. The 'Well of Souls' or 'Holy of Holies' cannot be visited.
Take a quiet break in the Shalom Forest.
Many buildings in Jerusalem are constructed of beautiful white and pinkish local stone, giving them an ancient feel. The month was October and the weather was witheringly hot. A refreshing break can be found in the Shalom Forest. Regular visitors may be unaware of this quiet location of fir trees. Segways can be hired for riding around, which is good as some of the paths are quite steep.
The Shrine of the Book Museum had an atmosphere of reverence, displaying the Dead Sea Scrolls ancient manuscript. The Holocaust History Museum houses expansive photo and document archives among other things. If you visit the Negev desert area, The Fountain of Tears in Arad is an emotive exhibit of life-sized bronze statues of Holocaust victims placed alongside Christian-themed sculptures.
Independence Park and a swim in the Mediterranean, highly recommended.
Tel Aviv architecture is not to everyone's liking but there's a relaxed cosmopolitan feel to the city. Healthy and overstuffed bagels are a great value buy. The best fettuccine I've ever eaten was at Pappa's Restaurant where the garlic aromas lured me. Walking around alone at night seemed completely safe. Tel Aviv Port has waterfront shops and is a popular local fishing spot.
An early morning dip in the Mediterranean was a fun little adventure after I discovered that I'd been swimming during the men's' only time. I was thoroughly glared at by the women on the beach, but the lads in the water seemed happy enough. Spotting UN vehicles would be a hobby to get rich from if you had a dollar for each one spotted. Yafo is a melting pot with markets and hosts an international harp concert.
There is so much to explore in Israel such as historic Masada and the beach resort of Elat. Taking care on final feast days after dark may be advisable in Jerusalem due to the possibility of street rioting, but that's life in Israel and they can handle it. Overall, Israel is a family-oriented community, fascinating in its history and gives all travellers a warm welcome.