Tel Aviv and Jaffa

My husband had to work for several days on our trip, so while he was working I took the baby out and explored!  We took a walking tour of Old Jaffa which is just down the beach from Tel Aviv.  It was wonderful weather that day, so we spent all day outside walking around.

We almost missed the tour because we went to the wrong clock tower.  We thought it was the tower on top of the hill sticking up from the church, but it wasn’t.  We had to do a little hunting to find the right place.

The right clock tower.
View of Tel Aviv.
Wrong clock tower.

All the signs in Israel were written in Hebrew, Arabic, and English.

After all that walking, it was time for a snack break and some gelato!

The next day we walked all through the city and to Hayarkon Park.

Swinging for the first time was a success!
We had lunch on a bench looking at the little zoo.

Our last day in Tel Aviv was spent bathing suit shopping for our trip to Thailand.  So we were in and out of malls all day, with lots of walking.  Tel Aviv was a really fun city.  I couldn’t help but notice there were burger restaurants everywhere!  Coming from Europe, this was unusual.  We had a couple burgers while we were there and they were delicious!  Much better than any burger I’ve had in Europe so far.  We also enjoyed the people we met, they were very friendly and helpful.  Israel is such an interesting country.  It was kind of a last minute trip, so I wish I would’ve had a little more time to research but we had a wonderful time!

Enjoying one last hummus and falafel plate before heading home.
Camel ride in the airport.

The Dead Sea

Our next day in Israel we took another road trip out to the Dead Sea.  The Dead Sea lies between Israel and Jordan.  It is the saltiest body of water on Earth, so salty nothing can survive in it.  That saltiness is also what makes you float!

We only had two days to choose from to go out to the Dead Sea, we chose the day with the better weather.  It was sunny and warm but not as warm as I like it to be when I go swimming.  The breeze wasn’t helping anybody either.  We sat in chairs on the beach for a while, working up the courage to get into the chilly water.  It really wasn’t that bad, but I like water to feel like a hot bath so for me it was a bit too cold.

cold, cold, cold, cold
Once you’re floating it doesn’t feel so cold.

I was nervous to lean back, I knew I would float but it’s a strange feeling.  Like you’re doing a trust exercise with the water, “is it going to catch me?”  Side note that I didn’t know about before doing my trip research.  All the Dead Sea advice makes sure to tell you not to shave for a few days before going in.  Apparently it really burns if you’ve shaved too close to your Dead Sea swim.  Really glad I took that advice!

No floating for babies, but I don’t think she minded too much.
Salt crystalized on the rocks.

The other thing you “have to do” when you visit is get all lathered up with Dead Sea mud.  It’s supposed to be very healing and good for your skin.  It was chillier by the time we got around to doing the mud.  So instead of a relaxing outdoor spa experience it was more like, “hurry up and put it on!”  Maybe I’m a wuss, but I needed like 10 more degrees to be comfortable.

Again, cold, cold, cold, cold, cold.

Even if it was chilly, I’m so happy we went.  It was really fun and possibly a once in a lifetime experience!

Jerusalem

We had the opportunity to tag along with my husband on one of his work trips to Israel.  This was his 4th or 5th time going, but our 1st.  We flew out on the same day but on different airlines.  Baby Girl and I flew El Al, which is an Israeli airlines and he flew Lufthansa.  I have to say that I have never been questioned so much before getting on a flight.  I was questioned before I even got to the counter to drop my bags.  Not that it’s a bad thing, I certainly understand the extra security.  It was a weird feeling though to be so heavily scrutinized.

This was my first time flying alone with my daughter.  Once I got to my gate, I was getting everything organized and I decided I had better change her diaper before getting on the plane.  I opened my diaper bag to find…1 diaper.  Mom fail!  I had only one diaper to last me 4+ hours until I could get to my checked baggage where the rest of the diapers were.  Not going to lie, I was panicking a little.  Luckily I spotted another mom with a baby and asked her for some extras.  Thank goodness for her!

The flight wasn’t too bad, but it was definitely a challenge.  Little lady had passed the age of just sleeping calmly for the whole flight.  She was more active and had more difficulty falling asleep.  I was trying to keep her asleep while I had my meal.  One wrong kick and my food would’ve gone everywhere.

I was able to easily meet up with Hubby (who was upgraded to first class on his flight) once we arrived in Tel Aviv.  From there, he took care of the rental car and got us to our hotel.

All ready to go!

The next morning we set out early to Jerusalem, about an hour away from Tel Aviv.  As we neared the city and started getting out of the car, it was hard for me not to notice the very heavy police and military presence.  I remember asking a few times if this was normal, to which Hubby assured me it was.  It had a double feeling of safety and concern.  They are there being vigilant and making sure nothing does happen, but it is a little unnerving when you aren’t used to it.

Our first stop was the Western Wall, or Wailing Wall as it is also known.  This is considered the most holy site of the Jewish faith.  It is the remaining outer wall of the Second Temple which housed the Temple Mount.  Where the Temple used to be is now the Dome of the Rock, a Mosque.  This site is considered very sacred by more than one religion, and it is easy to start to see why there has been so much conflict here.

We took a tour of the Western Wall tunnels.  For me it was really helpful to get more background on the history of the building and amazing to see something constructed so long ago.

After our tour it was time for a little bit of lunch.  It was shawarma and hummus for everyone!  This little lady really enjoyed it!

After lunch we marched up to the top of this tower to get some views over the city.

Dome of the Rock from the tower

 We also shopped through the markets.  Here we are checking out hand carved olive wood.

Last stop of the day was the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  For Christians, this church holds an extremely holy site.  Inside is thought to be where the crucifixion of Jesus Christ took place.  Of course the church was built after and did not exist at the actual time.

This is a picture of where the cross would have been placed in the ground.
Mosaic inside the church.

There is a small shrine built within the church that is supposed to be the site where Jesus was entombed for three days.  However we overheard a tour guide talking about how the actual site was this tiny hole in the wall off to the side.

Possibly Jesus’ tomb?

This is on the upper floor of the church and is where Jesus’ body would’ve been physically on the cross.

 It’s hard to express the feeling you get visiting a place like this.  For everyone it would be different and obviously it depends on what your beliefs are.  For me the weight and importance of this location was surreal.  It’s hard to believe I was really in the place of Jesus’ crucifixion and burial.  I am so thankful I had the chance to visit, and reflect.

Jerusalem is at the center of three major world religions.  Each faith has some extremely holy sites in the area.  Even if you are not a follower of any of them, it is interesting to see the convergence of these faiths in one place.  There is so much history as well, a day was not enough to do the city justice.  However, we made the most of our day and were able to see some amazing things.  Hubby was our guide for the day, and we were lucky he had visited before so he could show us around!  Thanks Honey, you were a great tour guide!