Monday, December 30, 2013

Israel.....Tel Aviv

     After back to back tours, I was once again ready to travel on my own. Well; so I thought; but sometimes travel is a bit daunting, especially when you don't speak the language, but I trudge on with my plans and head to Israel. I thoroughly researched this whole trip and new that Israel is very strict and for justifiable reasons has heightened security. I contacted the hotel where I would be staying and inquired about a  ride from the airport. I was told that there were two options; one meeting at the welcome area after baggage claim; and one where a driver would meet me right at the plane. I chose the latter, while expensive; it seemed like a safe idea. The driver met me and escorted me out of the airport and back in through the front. We went straight to the front of the line at immigration and he spoke with the girl working there. I thought it would be a simple process after their discussion, but it was anything but. I was asked question after question, as she flipped through my passport, and glared at me. She seemed confused as to why I would come here, not knowing anyone, and by myself. I was now wondering the same thing. Eventually I escaped the inquisition and after being stopped two more times; the airport. I arrived at the airport, checked in and tried to decompress.
    In the morning I headed out to see Israel; namely Tel Aviv; for the first time.

         So I headed down to "The Boardwalk". So far from what I expected; assuming that it would some how resemble the one of my youth at the Jersey shore. No boards, no t-shirt shops, no pizza parlors, nothing but a peaceful serene path from the new to the old. I walked and tried to once again "take it all in", such beauty....I thought back to the girl at the airport. Why did I come here? Have you seen this place? Get out of your angry chair, in your angry booth, in the angry airport and enjoy your country!

           I followed the path to the old city of Jaffa. It's earliest settlement dates back to 1900 BC....yes BC! It is ingrained it history of all sorts, Biblical, Egyptian, Roman, and the list goes on. It is small and quiet; hidden on the hilltop above the bustling city of Tel Aviv. Of course it has shops and plenty of tourist; but the allies are mostly untouched, and the buildings are in amazing shape. It is clean and well kept. I wandered the alleyways and looked into the more hidden shops, actually finding a few treasures in a sea of postcards and t-shirts.

              So the rest of my time in Tel Aviv was spent, enjoying the beach. I also walked to the port nearby and did a little shopping. It was nice and relaxing; which was welcomed after India, and before my coming trip to Jerusalem.

         My only regret about coming to Israel at this time of the year; is that I couldn't go any deeper than my calves into the crystal clear waters of the Mediterranean. I think I will come back when it's seems to be worth the trip...... 

Friday, December 27, 2013

India....eight days (part 2)

   Once again I have fallen behind on this blog; it all seems so distant now. While trying to be diligent, it usually is more a case of internet access rather than time. So here is Jaipur and most importantly; what I really came to see....Taj!

      Our first stop was a "stepwell"; the truly amazing thing was not the well, but the fact that people carried buckets of water up all these stairs.

        This was located in a small and horribly poor neighborhood. The highs and lows of taking a guided tour come in waves. I'm glad I saw the well, as I would've surely missed it on my own, but I could've done without a tour of the neighborhood.

           Although I think my heart has hardened to the struggles of people in these countries; not to say I don't feel bad; but I can't save them all; the kids kill me. I feel horrible that this is their station in life. I was glad to see this school and feel the hope that they may; at least a few; escape this place.

       My final stop was the long awaited, and much anticipated Taj Mahal. No words can describe it; it's just something you must see. The only way to describe it is perfect. Perfect design, perfect construction, and above all perfect love. The writing shown below, is around the door to the crypt; it is from the Koran, and describes what "Paradise" looks like. That was the goal of the Taj, to replicate "Paradise" on Earth, for his wife. I will just close with the best of my pictures, and let them speak for Taj's majesty...