So I was reminded this weekend that it's been well over a YEAR since my DCL/ABD Med cruise and I never posted the "final chapter" of my Trip Report, covering my visit to Israel. Figured I'd best post it before I go on my *next* ABD (3 weeks! 0_o) It was a relatively short visit to Israel, mostly intended to visit my sister & her family. She's lived there since the late '70's. She's been here to visit many times, but I hadn't been there since 1979, so I figured it was ridiculous to go all the way to Spain and not go the rest of the way to Israel for a visit. Since we spent the majority of the time in Jerusalem, visiting my nieces & nephews, that's really the only part of the country I have pictures of. Jerusalem is amazing and awe-inspiring, if for no other reason than because it is so ancient, and has SUCH history. I saw some amazing, incredible, historic sites in Italy and France, but there is just something about the Old City of Jerusalem. I'd forgotten how powerful it is. I left off Part 9 of this Trip Report with the short flight to Madrid, and the fun, fun, fun I had in the Madrid airport with the ultra-tight security of El Al. As I said there, it was a hassle, but considering the absolutely amazing safety record that El Al has, I was totally OK with it. I felt so much more secure getting on that plane, knowing what people had to go through to get on it. I arrived at Ben Gurion airport in the wee hours of the morning. I guess it's pretty normal for folks to arrive there at odd hours. I connected with my Brother-in-law, and off we went to their home! I installed myself in their guest room, and crashed! The next day was pretty laid-back. My sister had made plans for us to meet up with her kids and the grandkids in Jerusalem. On the way to Jerusalem, we passed this memorial. Several jeeps had been attacked, and left by the side of the road. They'd been turned into a memorial. It was really pretty cool, even if we only saw it while driving quickly past. This really amazing, crazy suspension bridge is in Jerusalem. It just really doesn't look like it should work. Seriously. But it does. Freaky! It's really quite amazing. (Sorry for the quality of the last 2 pictures, but it was really seriously foggy in Jerusalem that morning!) Suffice it to say, my sister's extended family took over almost the entire pizza parlor where we ate! It was a lot of fun, although only a portion of them actually spoke any English! My sister's kids all speak English, but it's by no means the rule there! It was loads of fun seeing all of them, and meeting my great-nieces and -nephews. The pizza parlor was in an interesting Mall. It was a modern building, and yet somehow managed to look like an old market with open stalls. Not like the Malls you see here in the US. After lunch and a lot of chat, my sister and I went to Yad Vashem, the Museum of the Holocaust on a picturesque hill on the outskirts of Jerusalem. http://www.yadvashem.org/ Photos weren't allowed, and honestly, I don't know that photos would convey the emotions of the place. The museum has several sections. You travel through the history of the period, view artifacts from the period, see photos and videos of the people and the places in a historical context. The one thing I can really say about this museum is that it puts the Holocaust into such a personal, *human* context. Real people, people like you and I, who were sucked into a nightmare that so, so many never escaped from. Extremely powerful and extremely moving. We were there for several hours, and I could have spent several more there (we got shoo'd out of the museum at closing time, pushed from exhibit to exhibit as we tried to view as much as we could as we exited.) There was one point where you were confronted by a life-sized photo of the end of the train tracks in front of the imposing gate at one of the concentration camps. It was hard to look at. This was the view all the people hauled to the concentration camps saw as they were herded out of the train cars where they had been packed like cattle. There is also an Exhibit called the Hall of Names, where you are surrounded by notebooks filled with millions of pages containing biographies of those killed in the holocaust, with plenty of shelf space left for those who hadn't been memorialized yet. It's topped by an imposing circular ceiling adorned with photos of some of those victims. (These aren't my photos, but I thought I'd include something here). I don't want to get into a discussion of the Holocaust here. Suffice it to say that it was incredibly powerful. From there my sister took me to the Old City of Jerusalem. This is the old Walled City from biblical times. Her GPS wasn't too clear on one of the turns to take, so we ended up taking the long way there. But it was an interesting detour, because it took us through Mea Shearim, which is the ultra-ultra orthodox neighborhood in Jerusalem where you routinely see signs like this: (When I was last there in 1979, the signs were a lot more threatening!) It was fairly late in the evening at this point, and folks were walking everywhere, like it was the middle of the day. I was quite impressed by the bustle and activity of the area. Very different from the stereotyped idea I had of the neighborhood. It was quite dark by the time we got to the Old City. It was lit up quite effectively and beautifully. We parked nearby, and walked up to one of the Gates into the City. As we walked up to the outskirts of the old city, you could see areas where they were still excavating. Makes you wonder what they'll find. This picture is a bit dark, but you can see the staircase in the far-right middle of the photo. It leads to a walking ledge that circles the city. We did see occasional soldiers walking up there. There's really no way to describe the feeling of turning a corner, and finding yourself walking up to the Wailing Wall -- the remaining relic of the Second Temple on Temple Mount, built on the site of the destroyed Temple built by King Solomon. It's also known as the Western Wall. You can just *feel* the history and ancientness of the Wall standing before you. You have to wind your way through several people standing and praying at the Wall. But once you get up there, and stand physically touching it -- it's really quite powerful. You can see the thousands of tiny pieces of paper stuffed into all the cracks of the Wall. There's a tradition that prayers written on a piece of paper and placed in a crack in the Wall will be answered. I guess it's kind of a direct pipe-line. Me at the Wailing Wall. We then left the secure area around the Wailing Wall, and climbed up to an area that looked back over where we'd been. Looking down at the Security entrance to the Old City. An old Menorah. As we walked along in the Old City, into the Jewish Quarter, we came up to an area that I later realized I remembered from my previous visit to Jerusalem in 1979. My sister described to me how there was a synagogue on this spot that was destroyed during the 1948 Arab-Israeli war. A commemorative arch (which matched an arch that adorned the destroyed synagogue) was erected on the site when control of the area was regained in 1967. I have a distinct memory (out of context) of that arch. (Here's a stock photo of the arch). At the time in 1979, I thought the arch had been all that was left from the bombing. The synagogue was finally rebuilt recently (styled to look like it had before), and had been re-dedicated just a couple of months before I visited. Here's some photos of the synagogue, you can see where the arch is in the architecture. Continued below.