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Sorry for the lack of posts. Haven't felt motivated much. I'll try to do a spread of a few.
What have we done since our trip to Europe and Israel?
We’ve had a fun time here in Israel but our time is done and we’re heading off to Rome tomorrow morning. Shawna and Scott are going back to Nice as Scott needs to get back to work for Monday. Since leaving the kibbutz we were staying at we’ve been through a few sites:
There is so much history here and so much to see it is hard to keep track of. Old town of Jerusalem is chalk full of interesting sites and the meld of Jews, Muslems, and Christians is interesting. One minute you are in a Greek Orthodox church, the next you see Jews praying along the Western Wall, and you climb up to the Temple Mount to see Muslems coming out of the mosque up top. There is a very impressive holocaust memorial and the Israel Museum has a 1:50 scale model of old Jerusalem from thousands of years ago.
Was kind of weird going to Bethlehem as it is in the Palestinian controlled area of the West Bank so we got to cross through the border there. Rather large wall with some guards but they were very friendly.
Next day was on to the Dead Sea (we were there 2 years ago but on the Jordan side). We got to rub ourselves down with the black mud, so our skin is probably in amazing condition now. Went on to visit the ruins of Masada, a fortress on the top of a mountain overlooking the Dead Sea from a couple thousand years ago.
All in all we are super glad that we decided to come back to the middle east to see this part of the world- it was certainly worth the time.
Our first touring day in Israel was great. We were up early and saw a ton of stuff. We started in Caesarea, a port city that King Herod first established. Then off to the Jezreel Valley and Megiddo - a cool archeological site- from there you can see numerous mountains that are all related to well know bible stories (like Mount Tabor, transfiguration on the mount). It's super hot- not a huge surprise but we don't think it's as hot as last time in the middle east...but we have been on the coast and tomorrow when we're inland it will be over 100 F.
We visited a old city named Acre - we saw the Muslim area. We also stopped in Haifa and saw the - they are stunning to say the least, we were VERY impressed considering all they have here is rocks. Somehow they have managed to make beautiful gardens that are 1 km long an 1/2 km wide. Haifa is a modern city that overlooks the sea.
We got to our hotel and the best news of the day was that the missing backpack had been delivered! Had a great buffet supper and we're loving the massive amounts of hummus, tzatziki, and other dips- the food is pretty much identical to what we had 2 years ago in this area. However, we can't say that we have ever eaten cow tongue until tonight. It was really tasty but the girls were about to eat it when someone unfortunately mentioned that it wasn't roast beef! We're actually staying in a hotel in a kibbutz area...we learned that a kibbutz is pretty much like a Hudderite colony with communal living but of course they're Jews. If we understand properly it was a convenient way for the Jews to establish themselves when they first returned to Israel.
Time for another update.
The Matterhorn was our next destination and was more impressive than expected. We took a gondola up the mountain for half and hour and then took another cable car even further. At the bottom it was over 20 degrees and at the top there was people skiing. Pretty impressive views.
We ended up in Geneva that night. Beautiful, smaller sized city. Big lake and fairly active night life around the lake on the Friday night.
Cheryl and I spent a couple days in Lyon and Dijon before joining back up with Scott & Shawna in Donneloye (Switzerland). Went on to Zurich (via Lucerne) for the night. Very active city and quite pretty.
Next day we left Switzerland by going through Lichtenstein. One of the smallest countries we had been through (beside Monaco). We ended up in Munich, Germany. Very cool town with tons of shopping, pedestrian roads, and people everywhere. Visited the famous Hofbauhaus for sausage and sauerkraut. Spent some sobering time in the Dachau concentration camp memorial centre.
Off to Nuremburg for a night. Nice city that was a little bit slower pace than Munich.
Finished off in Berlin where we received a lot of knowledge surrounding the Berlin wall. So much of the city sights are reflective of its odd past. The city is huge, spread out, and we thus used public transit quite a bit.
We are in Tel Aviv right now and getting ready to start our middle east experience for the 2nd time. Arrived with a few issues. Both bags were missing and only one has showed up so far. Immigration decided to hold us for a little while. Not sure why (perhaps the Syrian visa from 2 years ago they didn't like so much). Spent the day wandering around Tel Aviv and the beaches are pretty amazing. Water is pretty much bath tub temperature so not exactly refreshing, but kind of neat. First odd observation is the number of guns around. We've heard that military people in civilian clothes will still carry their gun.
Nice to Switzerland It’s been a week already and we’ve seen lots of things. Cheryl went to Nice on July 1 and spent the week with Shawna relaxing on the beach and shopping by the sounds of it. I joined them the next week and we rented a car and hit the road. We started in Piza-the tower is still leaning nicely. Then we spent a couple of days in Florence, we got to see the statue of David. Weather is consistently hot, so the air conditioning has been a nice bonus (in the hotels and the car). Spent two great days in Venice at a hotel in a pretty ideal location near St. Mark’s Square. Did the typical gondola ride and it was in fact quite enjoyable and romantic. We didn’t drop the big bucks and have champagne and an opera singer as well. But we did have the boat to ourselves. We took in the cathedral, the tower, famous bridges, and more, but we failed on going to the Guggenheim museum as it turned out to be closed on Tuesdays after we walked an hour to get there.
So headed to Milan. It is a very fashion conscious city. The girls were quite happy to people watch, but of course had to do some shopping as well. We saw the world’s 3rd largest cathedral (fits over 40,000) and drove by the big soccer stadium (where both AC Milan and Inter Milan play). Biggets highlight was probably to see the “Last Supper” painting by Da Vinci. Fairly well controlled as only 20 people are allowed a time and you pass through various sections that close behind you before the doors open in front to control the humidity that enters the church.
Sitting in Brig, Switzerland tonight. Very picturesque Swiss-Alps mountain village. We realize our little Ford Fusion with four passengers doesn’t tackle the mountain passes so well. 3rd gear was used more than a few times. We won’t be getting a speed ticket in this country. It’s off to see the Matterhorn tomorrow in Zermat and we will end up in Geneva for the night. Food has been great…eating tons of bread and cheese. Our first Swiss meal included raclette (basically 2 pickles, 4 pickled baby onions, a potato, and some fried cheese…..really tasty but not very filling…so pizza followed it up).
We did a quick trip up to Edmonton to visit the the Affleck family and see their latest addition, Felicity. Thought I'd post a few pics.
A Galloway wedding on the weekend. Here are some photos.Wedding Party
We had some company for the weekend that had tickets to see Thomas the Tank Engine on Saturday.
It all started with changing my computer desk. Pretty soon we were using black stain on a number of furniture pieces. They all look pretty good. Here was our one dresser before and after.