The Amazing Race Meets National Lampoon’s Vacation

Posts Tagged ‘mosaics’

Andrew’s Day 8

Posted by madtrippin on April 15, 2008

We got something of a late start today – 9:00am.  We’ve been leaving the hotel at 8:30.  We headed over the Garden Tomb today.  This is also a possible location of Jesus’ tomb – the other being at the Russian Orthodox church both Gabe and I complained about a few days ago.


Historical records and the bible both seem to point to the Garden Tomb as a more likely location.  It’s actually an interesting site.  It’s owned and operated by a non-denominational, non-profit group.  It’s a one-acre site just outside the old city walls and is brilliantly landscaped.


We then headed to another church that was just above the garden of Gethsemane – the name escapes me at the moment.  This is where Jesus is said to have been tried by the Jews before going before Pontius Pilot.  The mosaics were crazy.  I would have posted some photos, but I had already packed my camera cord for the trip we’ll be taking to Rome in the morning (we leave at 2:00 am for the airport in Tel Aviv).  Gabe has some good shots on his last post (read at your own risk).


Then we headed back to the hotel with a half-day free.  We all took a short rest and then we (Gabe and our parents) went out to the old city to walk the crazy labyrinth and do some last minute shopping.  We’ve really got this haggling thing down to a science.  The key is to be prepared to walk away, even if you really want the item.


I wanted one item and the vendor started out at $40, which was a joke.  I just started walking.  He then went down to $20 (“because business was slow today” he said).  I turned and told him it wasn’t even close and started walking again.  He then went down to $15 and just before I got out of earshot, he went down to $10.  Man I’m good.  I learned from the best – my mom.


Here are some shots of my kids I downloaded from the camera before the trip, just to have some images in my post.  The first is of Emma (She’s 8 years old) and the second is Noah (5)

 with our neighbor’s dog Lenny.







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Andrew’s Day 5

Posted by madtrippin on April 12, 2008

Today we stuck around Jerusalem.  We headed into the old part of Jerusalem (inside the walls).  It’s wild in there.  The streets are like something you’d see in an Indiana Jones movie, most places are about 10 feet wide with buildings on either side containing tiny shops with merchandise flowing out into the streets.  The people that run these shops assail the passers by with their sales pitches.  Avoiding them is a skill I believe I’ve mastered.


We followed the stations of the cross, which wound its way all through churches, monasteries and streets.  The final station was the supposed tomb of Jesus, which is inside a Russian Orthodox church.  We sat in line forever (probably over 1.5 hours) to see a stone that Jesus was said to have been laid upon.  The entire time we had a bunch of crazy Russians pushing us from behind and trying to cut in line.  Talk about pushy, rude and just plain uncool.


The Russian Orthodox church is really into worshipping icons and they kiss paintings and anything Jesus or bible related.  They’re also really into very gaudy displays in their churches.  Needless to say… this was not the highlight of the trip.


After all that we headed to the Church of John the Baptist.  It was very ornately decorated with hand painted tiles, paintings and statues.  The Franciscan monks that run the church didn’t want a single word spoken in the church, so our guide had to whisper when they weren’t paying attention.


Gabe and I ended the day walking back to the old part of the city after the group got back to the hotel (about a mile) to explore.  It’s a totally different place when you’re not there with the group.  It’s like a giant bazaar or flea market filled with people (Jews, Arabs, and every other race crede and color), housewares, clothing, produce, prepared foods, electronics, etc.  This is like the mall back in the states – maybe a little more like China Town in New York.  You can get just about anything – fake nikes and knock-off clothing were all over the place.  Gabe bought a four pieces of flat bread from one of the vendors for about 4 shekels ($0.25 each).  We ate it at dinner with humus.


One more mullet pic from today.  I know what you’re thinking… it’s just a pony tail.  What you can’t see is that his hair is cropped short on the sides.  All that pony tail is from the back of his head.


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Andrew’s Day 2

Posted by madtrippin on April 9, 2008

Today we went to the Sea of Galilee, which is really a large large, freshwater lake (4 miles by 22 miles or so).  We took a 30-40 minute boat ride with some site-seeing.

They have a boat they call the Jesus boat at the museum.  Jesus really had nothing to do with it, but it was dated to the time of Jesus.  I suspect adding Jesus to the name is just a marketing hook and it seemed to be working.  I was impressed with the gift shop.  They advertised their website – – on everything.

I also got an opportunity to do some mullet hunting.  I bagged a couple of good ones today with Gabe’s help doing spotting and with being a decoy, but again… I couldn’t upload them.  Tomorrow we’ll be in a new  hotel and the pictures will be up. 

We also went to a couple other holy sites (who’s names escape me at the moment).  Most notably the church that contains the altar (more of the remnants of and altar) where Jesus is said to have performed the miracle of the fishes and loaves.  They had a great koi pond and crazy, original mosaics that were totally restored (pictures tomorrow night).

The coolest place, in my opinion, was Bet She’An.  It’s an old Roman/Byzantine ruins site.  Very cool stuff – columns, a theater, aquaducts, mosaics, etc. 

I’ll be glad to move move on to Jerusalem tomorrow.  This place is about 1.5 miles out of the city and the hotel goes dead in the evening with all the older people going to bed at 9:00.  I guess the new hotel rocks and is actually in more of a metro area. 


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