Tell Who? Tel-Aviv! Part 1 of our Holy Land Tour

Tell Who? Tel-Aviv! Part 1 of our Holy Land Tour

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Destination: Tel Aviv Israel
Date: March 2010

I was a little unsure of how I’d feel about Israel
Jaffa, Israel March 2010

Israel is one of the best surprises I’ve encountered while traveling.  I must admit I wasn’t excited about the trip.  My wonderful in-laws had purposed an idea that all of their children travel to Israel with their spouses, and we would meet in Tel-Aviv to begin a visit to the Holy land.  My impression of Israel wasn’t good, so how could I get excited?  All I could imagine is what I had seen on CNN, and that consisted of bombed out apartment complexes, and machine guns, and debris in the streets.  I could only picture the desert of the middle-east and I couldn’t imagine it would be a destination I’d ever want to visit.  How WRONG I was!  This turned out to be a trip of a lifetime!  It also changed my life in many ways, so I am truly excited to write about this magnificent place called Israel.

We landed at the Tel-Aviv airport late on Saturday, March 12, 2010.  After a long eleven hour flight from the states I was ready for bed.  Since it was night time when we arrived I couldn’t see much outside.  Soon our kind taxi driver met us at the airport and drove us straight to our accommodations.  Our hotel wasn’t the greatest so I will omit the name.  Once I had a full nights sleep I was ready to get up and see what Israel had to offer.  When I asked the taxi driver the night before how safe Tel-Aviv was, he told me not to pay attention to what I see on TV.  He said it was like looking at a place through a magnifying glass.  “They make everything look much bigger than it is.”  I wasn’t sure I believed him but with the new day I was ready to peek my head out and see if I needed to run for cover.  

Above is a typical home in old Jaffa and this photo is our first glimpse of the Mediterranean Sea
Jaffa Israel, March 2010

It was great to meet up with most of Trent’s family at the hotel.  Once we had established we were ready for our tour to begin, our tour guide showed up.  Mark was a great guide that was a Jewish Canadian.  We were set up with him through our tour group at LDS Travel.  Our first stop of the day would be to Jaffa.  Jaffa was very close and happens to be where Jonah was spit out of the whale.  Let the Bible lessons begin!  This happened to be a very clean, small sector just outside of Tel-Aviv and where our guide started educating us on both Christian and Jewish significance.

The magnificent old port of Caesarea
Israel, March 2010

From Jaffa we drove over to Caesarea.  “This is where Peter explained his vision to the Roman Centurion that the gospel was available to all nations.  Paul, Luke and Philip also did missionary work here where there once had been a huge seaside metropolis.”LDS Study Guide

The ruins of Caesarea
Israel, March 2010
My brother-in-law “R”showing off his giant feet
Caesarea, Israel March 2010

The ruins here were amazing, and we watched a film at the museum that showed what Caesarea had looked like in its hay day, www.jewishvirtuallibrary.orgIt had a seaside coliseum for sports and the stadium seating was impressive for an ancient city.  We were also amazed at how large the stones were that were used to build a city like Caesarea.  

In the Valley of Elah where David fought Goliath
Israel, March 2010
My brother-in-laws “R” and “T” re-enacting the story of David and Goliath
Israel, March 2010
Trent in the Valley of Elah
Israel, March 2010

Our next stop of the day took us to the Valley of Elah.  This is best known as the area where the Israelites were encamped when David fought Goliath.  Now it sits like a humble valley in the midst of two hills but it was interesting to imagine what had happened here so long ago.  We couldn’t help but use a stone and pretend to knock over my 6’6″ brother-in-law “R” since he represented Goliath so well at this spot.  I couldn’t resist bringing back a few stones for the kids to show them what David had used to conquer this giant.

The beautiful city of Haifa from the Gardens of Bah’ai’
Haifa, Israel March 2010

Continuing on our journey we went through the city of Haifa.  In Haifa we enjoyed a view of the harbor and began talking about Elijah’s role before and after the life and mission of Jesus.  In the days of John the Baptist, people were eagerly anticipating the return of Elijah to proceed the coming of the Messiah.  Today, Haifa is a major city port and is the home of Mount Carmel.  

The Bah’ai temple and Gardens from the bottom of the hill

Haifa was a beautiful city to see, and we enjoyed walking the gardens  of Bah’ai’,  These gardens are a series of nineteen terraces that go up the side of Mount Carmel overlooking the Mediterranean.  According the the Bah’ai’ website it reads, “The geometry of the complex is built around the axis connecting it with the City of ‘Akko, which also has great historical and sacred significance for Bahá’ís. At its heart stands the golden-domed Shrine of the Báb, which is the resting place of the Prophet-Herald of the Bahá’í Faith.” Though this is not of our faith it was interesting to visit a place of religious importance to another faith.  The beauty of this area could be appreciated by a person of any faith.  

Our kibbutz accommodations
Sea of Galilee Israel, March 2010

Our last stop on our day trip north to Galilee was at our kibbutz, where we would be staying during our visit to the Northern area of Israel.  According to Wikipedia it says, “Kibbutzim began as utopian communities, a combination of socialism and Zionism. In recent decades, some kibbutzim have been privatized and changes have been made in the communal lifestyle.”  Basically it was a big commune with family style rooms for travelers. Our room had a kitchen and not only a double bed for Trent and I, but bunk beds as well if we had brought kids.  Since there were six couples in our group we all had our own private rooms and no one had to resort to bunk beds.  There is also a big communal eating area where meals are served to guests of the kibbutz.  Mostly there were other families or student groups staying at our kibbutz during our stay.  

Though I didn’t write the name of our kibbutz down, after looking at pictures online I am pretty sure we stayed at Ashdot Yaacov Ichud Country Lodging.  It was a very clean stay that would be comparable to something like Motel 6, but cleaner.  It was on the waterfront of the Sea of Galilee and had some beautiful views of the water.  The beauty of kibbutz is that they are all inclusive, meaning they cover a meal plan, and they are relatively cheap.  More info on kibbutz in the area, including the one we stayed at,  can be found at,

Our happy group on the tour bus that took us around Israel for 10 days!
Israel, March 2010
The beautiful landscape up in Northern Israel
Israel March 2010

Our first very full day in Israel ended here.  There was much to take in and the best part was that we were finally at our accommodations that would last us for the next three days.  It was nice to have a place to unpack for awhile and rest a little before the scheduled eight am meeting times every morning.  I would say our first day in this war torn country had been a success and I was ready to see all that it had to offer!

Safe & Happy Travels!!!