A 27-day adventure by skip's retirement travel
  • Day20

    Tel Aviv 2

    February 21 in Israel ⋅ ⛅ 18 °C

    Tel Aviv is a relatively new city. Yes, Yafo, Jaffa, is old, really old, but the rest of TA only began to come into existence just over 100 years ago. While Jerusalem leans more religious in character, TA is far more secular in orientation. TA is known for its beaches, and rightly so, but there is more to this city than that.
    This post intends to introduce a bit of what's here that makes TA, TA.
    The 1st 2 picture are of historical significance to Israel. The 1st picture is Independence Hall, where David Ben Gurion proclaimed the founding of the state of Israel in 1948. The building is currently under renovation. Just in front of the building, in the median of Rothschild Boulevard, is Founders Square, the fountain and monument to those most responsible for the creation of the nation.
    The 3rd picture is at Dizengoff Circus, a major traffic rotary and square in the middle of the city. This is the center of the so called White City. The rotary and its Fire and Water fountain anchor this area famous for Bauhaus architecture known for its simple white buildings with curved, undecorated surfaces, ribbon windows, etc. More than 4,000 buildings of this style were built here, and the White City of TA has been recognized by UNESCO.
    The 4th picture is in the museum in the home of Reuven Rubin, the artist whose work is displayed here. I was most taken by his work that reflects this city. The painting I chose to include here was painted to capture his sense of the 1st Passover after the creation of the state of Israel. The artist and his family are to the right. The others are Jewish people from many times and places represented in the new city. Especially interesting is his including at the far left of a figure that at least hints at a particular Jew from about 2,000 years ago. I'm told he hesitated to display this work at the time because of that, though ISTM that it makes sense of so much of history. I'll leave it at that.
    The 5th picture is in the Carmel (accent on the 2nd syllable in Hebrew for all you folks famliar with Putnam County) Market, a traditional market in TA. It is located at the edge of Neve Tsedek, said to be the oldest neighborhood in TA. The last picture is taken along a street in Neve Tsedek on Saturday afternoon, Shabbat. This is a neighborhood that has redeveloped into an area with lots of small shops and eateries, some but not all of which were open. Not many people on the street as typical for Shabbat, but the eateries were active.
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  • Day19

    Tel Aviv 1: At the Med

    February 20 in Israel ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    Tel Aviv is the 2nd largest city in Israel, after Jerusalem (when East Jerusalem is in included in the total). It is the economic and technological capital of the country. The name is officially Tel Aviv-Yafo. After the old city of Jaffa (see another post) was incorporated into Tel Aviv, the Hebrew rendering of Jaffa (Yafo) was included in the name.
    Tel Aviv is located on the Mediterranean coast. It is a new city, especially by the standards of this part of the world, having been founded in 1909 outside Jaffa. Today, Tel Aviv is a thriving, energetic, creative city.
    Given that TA is situated on the Mediterranean, it seems good to start there. Most of the seafront is beach with an adjacent esplanade. Even in February, there is activity along the water. The 1st 3 pictures are taken along the beach and capture a bit of the waterfront skyline.
    The 4th and 5th pictures are of the same sunset taken a few minutes apart. The orange sun went behind a cloud bank. When it reappeared below the clouds, the sun was deep red. This is the 1st time I've seen such a dramatic color change like this.
    There are some areas that aren't beachfront. One of those is the Tel Aviv marina in the last picture. This is a bit north of where the other picture were taken. A bit further north yet is the commercial port.
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  • Day18

    Old Jaffa

    February 19 in Israel ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

    Old Jaffa is one of the oldest ports in the world, dating back to at least the 15th century BCE. After all, this is the port where Jonah left before his ship ran into a storm, and he met with the proverbial whale.
    The 1st picture is the Jaffa clock tower that marks the center of Jaffa. While not impressive in itself, it began the movement in the Ottoman empire such that more than 100 similar clocks were built.
    The 2nd picture is the outer end of the seawall of the old port. The rocks are known as Andromeda's Rocks. To make a long story short, her father apparently upset Poseidon who sent a monster to get even. The only way to save Jaffa was to set his daughter Andromeda on the rocks naked. Eventually Perseus rescued Andromeda, killed the monster, and they lived happily ever after.
    The 3rd picture is the HaPisga garden at the top of Joppa hill. The 4th picture is the traditional home of Simon the Tanner where the apostle Peter had his dream about clean/unclean foods. The 5th picture is St. Peter's Church, named for that event.
    The old port in Jaffa is still active. It hosts a fleet of fisherman and a marina. Many of the port facilities are being renovated. The last picture looks along a portion of the old dock and warehouses as they now are. This has become a vibrant district.
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  • Day18

    Ancient Caesarea

    February 19 in Israel ⋅ 🌧 14 °C

    Ancient Caesarea (also Caesarea Maritima), just south of the modern town was built by Herod the Great and named for Augustus Caesar. Begun by Herod in 22 BCE, construction continued until 9 BCE when he finished the harbor (called Sebastos) that was built from nothing. That is, there was no place along the coast usable as a harbor. When it was built, it was the largest artificial harbor of it's time, rivaling even Alexandria in importance.
    Caesarea served as the provincial capital during Herod's reign and for some centuries thereafter. It was also an important place in the development of Christianity.
    The 1st picture looks across Herod's palace. The palace was on 2 levels. This picture looks across the upper or public label of the palace. The 2nd picture looks down on the lower or private level of the palace. This was built around an open courtyard with a pool that can still be seen in the center. Towards the bottom of the picture are some of the mosaics still in situ.
    The 3rd picture is the Roman theater, and the 4th picture is of some of the decorative elements from the original building.
    The 5th picture is the Herodias hippodrome, taken from one end. The original was twice as wide, but the Mediterranean (just visible to the left) waves washed out that portion. The last picture is a portion of the original wall along the hippodrome racecourse that has been set up to give a sence of the opulence Herod was famous for.
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  • Day18


    February 19 in Israel ⋅ ☁️ 16 °C

    Israel's 3rd largest city and largest port. The city dates back at least 3,000 years. It is built from the Mediterranean Sea with it's port and beaches up the north slope of Mount Carmel: you know, the place where Elijah had a bit of a fiery debate with the priests of Ba'al.
    Arguably the most impressive place in Haifa are the Bah'ai Gardens in the 1st picture. These terraced gardens are the approach to the shrine where the founders of the Bah'ai faith are buried.
    The 2nd picture is of a typical house in the German colony here, located at the foot of the Bah'ai Gardens. The colony was founded in the 1860s by German Protestants. This group was a driving force in the economic development of the region. The 3rd picture looks down the main street to the pier at its foot.
    The last picture is a market street not far from the German colony.
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  • Day18

    Hospitaller Fortress, Acre

    February 19 in Israel ⋅ ☁️ 15 °C

    The Knights Templar are better known, but the Knights of the Hospital of St. John of Jerusalem, better known as the Knights Hospitaller, were there, too. Both had fortresses/palaces in Acre. After founding of the kingdom of Jerusalem, Acre became the principle port. When the crusaders returned and controlled the Levantine coast, Acre became the capital. This fortress was well known as a a hospital at the time. Acre was the last holdout by the crusaders against the Muslims.
    The Templar fortress is gone, but the Hospitaller fortress remains.
    The 1st picture is a model of the ancient city. The Hospitaller palace is toward the bottom. The rest of the pictures are in this castle from the crusades.
    The 2nd picture is in the courtyard in the center of the castle. The reconstructed floor hides the wells and pools originally here. I think the round stones on the far side are catapult/ballista ammunition.
    The 3rd picture is of citadel halls beneath the upper stories. This is known as the Prisoners Hall. Today, this area houses a museum that traces the history of this castle.
    The 4th picture is in the crypt. A number of crusaders are interred here with their tombstones visible.
    The 5th picture is in the refectory (literally, a place to restore) or dining room. This is the most lavish of the rooms today.
    The last picture is in the so called beautiful hall. This is the largest space here and was where the hospital was located.
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  • Day17

    The Golan Heights

    February 18 in Syria ⋅ ☀️ 13 °C

    The Golan Heights is a plateau east to northeast of the Sea of Galilee. It was captured from Syria in the 1967 war and officially annexed to Israel in 1981. The Golan continues northwest to Mount Hermon that is partly in Israel, Lebanon and Syria. The last picture is a distant view of snow covered Mount Hermon (and, yes, they do ski there).
    The 1st picture is a long view of the Golan Heights from the road on the east side of the Sea of Galilee. The 2nd and 3rd pictures look down from an observation point near the top of the steep hillside of the heights, actually a 500 meter high escarpment. This is one side of the Jordan Rift Valley. I hope that gives you a sense of the steepness of the topography. The 2nd picture looks over the Sea of Galilee while the 3rd looks over the Hula Valley to the north of the Sea.
    The 4th picture looks across a small portion of the Golan plateau. This is a fertile area that has been used for agriculture. There are now many farms here.
    Given that the elevation is relatively high, this is one of the better places in Israel for orchards and vineyards. The last picture is of the 5 varieties of wine currently produced by the new (2 year old) Tel Vineyard. I enjoyed these wines at our tasting. The young vintner is extraordinarily talented. As the business grows, look for these wines, though it will be a while before they make enough to export.
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  • Day17


    February 18 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 20 °C

    The modern municipality of Migdal dates to the early 20th century and is located at the site of the town of Magdala that dates to the 2nd temple period. Many consider this to be the birthplace of Mary Magdalene.
    One of the most striking things here is the new church overlooking the lake. The chancel is shown in the 1st picture. That "ship" in the front is the altar table that is, in turn, in front of the windows to the Sea of Galilee.
    The rest of the pictures are of the ruins of the ancient village. The 2nd picture looks along a main street over some ancient houses. The 3rd picture is of the Migdal synagogue. Note the traditional bench seats around the wall. In the center is a carved white stone shown in more detail in the 4th picture. This is not stone found locally. Its purpose is not known but has been suggested that it might be a place for placing the scrolls for reading. It is a piece that is said to be unique in Israel. The 5th picture is an original mosaic in situ along one side of the main room of the synagogue.
    The last picture is near the synagogue or perhaps within the building complex. It is said to be a mikvah or ritual bath for ritual purification.
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  • Day17


    February 18 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 19 °C

    Capernaum, located on the northwest shore of the Sea of Galilee was understood to be the base from where Jesus ministered. There are many events in his life that occurred here, including teaching in the synagogue healings, and more.
    Archaeologists describe Capernaum as a small town dating from the 2nd century BCE with a single main street. It appears that agriculture and fishing were the main activities here. That main street is shown in the 1st picture.
    The next 3 pictures all relate to the synagogue excavated here. This building dates to the 4th century. The 2nd picture is of the main room in the synagogue. The 3rd picture look down into an excavation in one corner of the building. This is thought to be remains of the 1st century synagogue. The 4th picture is of a line of decorations, mostly column capitals, from the synagogue.
    The 5th picture is a part of what is thought to be Peter's house. It is described as an insula, a building that gets added to as additional members of the family need a home. This house is both large and located in front of the synagogue towards the lake. This suggests that Peter's family would have had some wealth.
    You might notice a dark beam at the top of the 5th picture. This is part of the structure supporting the Franciscan church built above Peter's house that is shown in the last picture. The church is built in the round around a square, glass covered opening that looks down on the ruins of Peter's house.
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  • Day17

    Taghba, The Church of the Primacy

    February 18 in Israel ⋅ ☀️ 17 °C

    Almost next door to the Church if the Multiplication is the Church of the Primacy of Peter. This is understood to be where Jesus appeared to the disciples for the 4th time. This is where Jesus cooked fish on the shore and instructed Peter to "Feed my sheep" 3 times.
    The 1st picture is a sculpture of Jesus giving Peter that famous instruction that reincorporated Peter among the disciples after his denial and reestablished his primacy among them.
    The 2nd picture is in the small church here that dates to the 1930s and incorporates elements from the 4th century building. The large rock in front of the altar in the 3rd picture is referred to as the Mensa Christi, or table or Christ. This is where it is believed that Jesus served breakfast that morning.
    The last 2 pictures are at the lakeside of the Sea of Galilee. The 4th shows the church, and the 5th shows more of what the shore looks like. Notice that the water level is high as it is the wet season.

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