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Yesterday Timothy and I took the bus from Haifa down to the Old City Jerusalem (with 1 bus change and a tram ride, about 3 hours). We just wanted to explore the old city and spend the day together, so we didn’t have guide or go on a tour.

We entered the city through the Damascus Gate, which lead us to the Via Dolorosa St. We saw several stations of the cross  (2-5, 7,8, and 10). We might have easily walked passed the other stations (1, 6, and 9) and not even know it! We went inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre as well and saw Jesus’ “Tomb”. (I’m not sure how much we can trust these sites.) Other sights we saw, but didn’t actually go into was the Western Wall, the Dome of the Rock and Mt. Olive (which we plan to visit next time).

We enjoyed wandering around the maze of streets in the Old City. Most of the streets were filled with bazaars selling all kinds of souvenirs, candies, spices, and other interesting items. We had a map, but honestly a map is not enough for the Old City. We got lost several time, but had fun doing it. I must admit, towards the end I was hot (high of 97), hungry, and tired, which equals grumpy in my book! I will say I did not enjoy the crowds, but I guess that is unavoidable in such a popular place.

I hope you enjoy our pictures. I have a couple of other day trips planned, and a special weekend anniversary trip! So keep an eye out for more updates! Also, I just got my “Rick Steves’ Italy 2013” book from Amazon (thanks for the recommendation Aunt Marie)! Timothy and I finally plan to visit Rome for his birthday in September. WHOOP!

In Israel, they really like salad. The most common salad I have seen in Israel, is what I call “Israeli Salad”. The main ingredients are as follow:

  • Diced cucumber (2 or 3 medium sized)
  • Diced seeded tomatoes (1 medium sized)
  • Diced Onion (1 medium sized)
  • Olive oil (2-4 tbs)
  • Lemon juice (1-2 tbs, I eyeball it.)
  • with salt/pepper to taste
  • parsley to garnish

Most cafes we have been to, like to take this basic salad and make it their own. We have had it with quinoa, chickpeas (garbanzo beans), salty cheese, pickles, or cabbage to name a few. I usually make mine with a can of drained chickpeas and some Italian seasoning. I’ve also made it before with avocado, and even Bulgarian cheese!

I highly recommend this very simple, yet tasty dish.

Good Eats!!

Good Eats!!

It is hard to admit, but Israel is starting to feel like home. Timothy and I are now in a nice routine and the city is becoming more and more familiar. We have also started taking Hebrew classes. We are currently studying the alef-bet. We are learning to write in both print and “cursive”, and read! Hebrew, while phonetic, doesn’t really have vowels. This makes reading difficult, but not impossible. There are “vowel indicators” that help us to figure out words. While at a restaurant, I was able to read several items on the menu. I many not know what I am reading, but HEY! it’s a start. 🙂

Last weekend, April 5, we went to Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery and Cable Cars with our new friends the Hofmann’s from Wisconsin (We met before Pesach (Passover) at a falafel stand. The crazy part of the story is Mrs. Hofmann is a Potsdam graduate! Small world). Stella Maris Carmelite Monastery is a beautiful monastery, here in Haifa. “The Carmelites are a Catholic order that originated in the late 12th century when a band of Crusaders, inspired by the prophet Elijah, opted for a hermetic life on the western slopes of Mt Carmel (hence the name).” (Lonely Planet)  While we were there, we rode the cable cars and had a wonderful view of the Mediterranean and the Carmel Mountain side.  We also visited Elijah’s Cave. Then we had lunch on the beach and later we played a game at our apartment. We had such a nice time with the Hofmanns.

Today, Timothy and I went to Nesher Park (Eagle Park), with our neighbor Shira. Nesher Park is near our home, about a 10 minute car ride, and has several nice hiking trails that lead to 2 suspension bridges. It is a city park, so it was very crowded, but we still had fun. Plus there were so many beautiful wild flowers!

This week we are celebrating two holidays, here in Israel. Sunday evening starts Memorial Day, followed by Independence Day. So far we do not have any plans, but hopefully we will catch some fireworks!

On Monday, March 25th Pesach (Passover) began. We were fortunate enough to be invited to a Pesach Seder, by a family who didn’t even know us! Timothy and I were interested in attending a Seder and so I asked a new friend (Laurie) if she knew of any host program for foreigners interested in Pesach. She told me that she would invite me but she was going to a friend’s house. Later we got a call from Laurie, saying her friend invited us too! We were so excited.

For those of you (like us), who do not know a lot about Pesach or a Pesach Seder, Seder means order and the Haggadah is the handbook Jewish people use to follow the order of the Passover dinner/ceremony. There are shorter versions and longer versions. We had the long version and more traditional. It started at 6pm and lasted until 12:30pm! We read the entire Haggadah (about 2/3 in Hebrew and 1/3 in English). Luckily we had a book with both English and Hebrew so we were able to follow along. It was really nice meeting new people, eating good food and learning about Jewish culture/history. It was a great experience.

Here is a link to a Haggadah in English.

Here is a link to a good video on the Pesach Seder basics.

On Thursday, March 28th,  we took the bus to Akko (maybe 20-40 min bus ride)! We visited the Knights Hall, Templar Tunnel, Turkish Baths, to name a few. It is an old city, with rich history: “Akko is the Acre of the Crusaders, and as the capitol and port of the Latinate Kingdom of Palestine, it received ships from Amalfi, Genoa, Pisa and Venice. St Francis of Assisi and Marco Polo were among the guests in the knights’ dining halls…” Read more at Lonely Planet’s website.  We really enjoyed exploring the ins and outs of the small city and plan on going back.

For Easter, we had a quite day at home. In the morning, I made Goldenrod, a Mann family favorite. Thankfully people warned us in advance to buy and freeze bread, and to stock up on crackers and other wheat products, which are not sold during Passover (unless you go to an Arab neighborhood). Then we went to the market to get groceries for dinner. For dinner, I made Quinoa tacos with real flour tortillas that were on sale before Pesach started (6 tortillas usually cost about $5, which is shocking for a Texan! Thankfully we got them for 1/2 price). I must say, the Tacos were AWESOME. The thing I miss most about Texas, besides my friends, is the food. 🙂 The rest of the day was spent relaxing.

I hope this blog post wasn’t too long! Enjoy the pictures. We love hearing from all of you. If you have questions, please feel free to ask!

Take care, Laura & Timothy

Make sure to check out our Ducky Blog! The gang has been busy here in Israel!

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