Middle East for Spring Break

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Judean Desert

Spending spring break in the Middle East is not typical, but then again…Michael and I are not typical either.

We weren’t planning on going anywhere in April, but got a call from some friends of ours who saw and booked a great deal on Travelzoo’s “Top 20” for a 5-night trip to Israel (incl. air+hotel+breakfast, for about $998/pp) and being great friends that they are – forwarded us that deal, so we ended up booking and going with them.

Even though we had the option of splitting the time between 2 cities, we decided to stay in Jerusalem for the 5 nights, and took day trips to neighboring cities. Public transportation is pretty developed in Jerusalem, so we had no problem using the light rail and buses to get around.

Old City Jerusalem:

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Tower of David

 

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Exploring Jerusalem was probably the best part. The history of the city is amazing, stretching from pre-historic times to recent events.

I did fall in love with Middle Eastern food, my favorite sides/dishes: baba , home-made hummus and red+white cabbage salad!

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they said “meat cigars”…it took us a few moments to figure out what they meant

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paradise for the sweet tooth!

Minus the stress, anxiety and paranoia that something will happen to us (kidnapping, terror attack, etc) it was the most educational trip I’ve ever taken. For example, did you know that Israel has 6 climates, even though over 50% of its land is a desert? I find this fact fascinating.

Another cool thing we found out: most Israelis are bilingual in Hebrew+English, and some speak three languages (Hebrew+English+Russian)!

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City of Nazareth
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City of Nazareth
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locally grown!

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City of Galilee

We did go into Palestine, to visit Bethlehem and Jericho, and it was amazing to see that while we were across the border -safety wasn’t an issue. Everyone was friendly and seemed happy to see us. We later found out that tourism is Palestine’s main ‘income’, so tourists are very welcomed.

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Bethlehem
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Bethlehem
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Palestinian side of the border
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Palestinian checkpoint
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Jericho + Mount of Temptation

We even made it to the beach for 2 days, and totally loved it! Got a chance to see the Dead Sea, Mediterranean sea, as well as Sea of Galilee (which is really a lake, but it’s big enough to be called a ‘sea’).

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Dead Sea
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Dead Sea
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Sea of Galilee
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Mediterranean Sea (Tel Aviv)

The 12-hr flight back to the US was painful and uncomfortable, but so worth the trip to Israel!

 

-Tatiana

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