Jane and I have done a lot of traveling, especially in the last few years. After spending time many countries, I decided it was time for us to see Israel. We booked our trip with OAT, Overseas Adventure Travel. This would be our fifth trip with them, every one of them was exceptional. We traveled for the sixth time with our close friends, Mike and Linda Levine, who always make the trip special.

OAT offered a chance to see Petra, an incredible archeological sight, so we extended our trip to Jordan. Now the trip was a bit long, twenty one days. When our daughters, Jessica and Julia, learned we would be in Israel, they decided to meet us in Jerusalem, before our tour. In all, we were away almost a month. The opportunity to spend time with Jessica and Julia in Israel made it really wonderful.

After our first week with Jessica and Julia in Jerusalem, we flew to Amman, Jordan and met our tour group. After six days in Jordan, we traveled to the Allenby Crossing, back into Israel, to meet up with our Israeli tour leader. How lucky we were to have Lior, she was more than the perfect tour guide. After so many trips we’ve come to understand that it’s the tour guide that makes all the difference. Lior was upbeat, incredibly knowledgeable, unbiased, organized and knew exactly how to handle our group. We had 16 travelers and we made many new friends. The photos were taken with my iPhone as my camera vanished one day. Some of the photos were taken by Mike, Lior, or Jane.

Our Travels through Israel and Jordan

Jane and I are standing on the Mount of Olives. This is the place where Jesus is thought to have ascended to heaven. It is an ancient Jewish burial site, 3000 years old, thought to be the first place Jews will be resurrected when the Messiah comes. Behind us is the old city of Jerusalem. Most recognizable, is the Dome of the Rock Mosque, it stands on top of Mt. Moriah. Jewish tradition believes Mt. Moriah is the place where God gathered dust to create Adam and where Abraham was summoned to sacrifice his son. The mosque also stands on top of the ruins of the second Jewish Temple, destroyed in 70AD by the Romans. Muslims believe that Muhammad ascended to heaven from this location.

Julia and Jessica after a long day of touring Jerusalem. We took a taxi to a restaurant and everyone was really tired. Finding a good place to eat on Friday evening, Shabbat, in Jerusalem, was really difficult.

The black line marks our journey in Israel, but leaves out our journey in Jordan. Petra was incredible. Jerash and The Citadel were also archeological highlights.

The evening we arrived in Jerusalem, we were surprised to learn that Israel was celebrating its 70th birthday. The streets were filled with people who were playing music and dancing. These celebrations went on through the night until daybreak.

This is the “Shuk” or the Mahane Yehuda Market. We got there a few hours before Shabbat. The place was crowded, bustling and lots of fun. When we returned to Jerusalem with our tour a few weeks later, we were happy to revisit the market.

We walked through the market, tasted some of the goodies, and talked to some of the vendors. There was an overwhelming amount of food. There’s also a section with souvenirs and clothing.

In Jerusalem, McDonalds is kosher. The meat is kosher. They don’t serve it with cheese and certainly not bacon. Sorry, no milkshakes with the burger.

I spent a terrific morning here. There were lots of migratory species still around and I watched as many birds were being banded. I had some great bird photos, but they disappeared with my camera. Luckily my home insurance more than compensated me for the camera loss, but the photos are gone forever.

The four of us spent many hours in the walled Old City of Jerusalem and I will show some more photos later on. On the left is a shot taken by Mike when we returned to Jerusalem with our tour. This soldier was praying at the Western Wall and afterwards he posed with me. On the right is a common scene at the wall. The Western Wall is the last remaining piece of the structure around the Second Temple, destroyed by the Romans in 70 AD. Actually, the holiest place for Jews is behind the wall, but Jews are not permitted to pray there, because another wall is built there, the Temple Mount, the holiest place for Muslims.