It’s been three weeks since I returned home from Israel and I’ve been bursting to blog about it! I have been SO busy though that this is the first chance I’ve gotten. I returned home at 2am on Friday then headed out at 5pm that same day for our family vacation to Massachusetts. Since returning home, I’ve been playing catch up on laundry, housework, emails, and other blog posts I needed to write. But finally, I have a moment to look through all of the photos taken during our trip and share with you some of my favorite memories of my time there. I thought it would be fun to tell you about each of my 5 senses favorite moments, so in random order, here they are!
I’m starting with taste because, well, I’m pregnant so food is a big deal right now. We ate so much amazing food while I was in Israel. I tried hummus for my first time and to be honest I liked it, but I didn’t feel like it lived up to what other people had hyped me up for — don’t hate me hummus lovers. I also tried a number of new fruits, grains and veggies. When it comes to drinks, hands down my new favorite is mint lemonade, followed by mint water. I’ve tried to recreate it here at home and I’m convinced that our mint plants are just not as strong in flavor as those in Israel because the taste does not compare. The mint drinks in Israel were excellent and always so refreshing!
We ate lunch one day at an incredible Arab restaurant located in Hefa called Ale Gefen. The extremely talented Omar Elwan cooked us a number of amazing dishes. I have to admit that I’m not always the most adventurous eater and sometimes struggle with trying new foods knowing the ingredients. Well, Chef Elwan cooked us leg of lamb and while I would have never ordered that myself, let me tell you, it was delicious!
I also must mention the Jerusalem Bagels. I have a strong love for all things bread and these are just amazing! I’d like to try making a few recipes at home. If I perfect them, I will share them for sure. They come with an amazing dry dip made from herbs, including oregano. If you ever have the chance to try one, you must!
Of course, when it comes to food, taste and smell go hand in hand, but there were many other fabulous smells (or not so fabulous — depending on who you ask) in Israel. When talking about smells, I have to mention the Kibbutz Harduf. This is an organic farm in northern Israel where people work and live. If you’ve ever been to a farm, than you know how they smell. Growing up in a rural community, with at least 3 different farms within a 1 mile radius, I am well accustomed to the smell of a farm. It might not smell “good” but reminded me that no matter where you are in the world, farms are necessary and I’m grateful for them.
While at the Kibbutz, I had the opportunity to bottle feed a calf and feed some chickens. We also used their outdoor kitchen to make a healthy meal with Paula Rosenberg. She showed us how to make cookies with beans — yes, beans, and they were surprisingly very good. I think even my picky kids would eat them!
On our walk through Nazareth, we stopped at the Elbabour Galilee Mill where we were greeted by amazing aromas from the many spices available for purchase there. It was such a sight to see — fresh spices and grains of just about anything imaginable were available for purchase in bulk. I was sad I didn’t have a lot of extra suitcase room to bring some home.
While we were in Jerusalem, I expected to hear a lot of religious sounds and that’s probably what you’d think I would talk about here. I actually didn’t notice any during my entire time in Israel. Maybe I wasn’t listening closely enough or just never in the right location. What I do remember is a rooster. This particular rooster was my alarm clock when we stayed a night at the Fauzi Inn in Nazareth and he woke me up at 4am…and continued to crow until I finally gave up and got out of bed around 7am. Although I wasn’t thrilled about his insistence on crowing all night long, my room at the Fauzi Inn was so amazing that it made up for his obnoxious behavior.
On Sunday, I had the privilege to meet Avi Laviad from the Israeli blog Hormonal Dad. Avi writes about pregnancy and childbirth and is just hilarious! He, his wife, and their adorable son took my to see the Mediterranean sea. I really enjoyed listening to the sound of the water. It’s always so relaxing!
Israel is certainly a beautiful land to behold! There was always something to look at and I wanted to snap pictures constantly. I loved walking the old stone streets of the cities and looking at the ancient architecture.
We drove through the desert on the way to the Dead Sea and the landscape was quite beautiful.
One of the most memorable sights was not planned, but due to the weather. Two days before we left Israel we woke up to, what I heard refered to as, “the worst dusts storm in 65+ years in Israel.” Dust covered everything. It was like a fog made of dust that hung in the air. The sun looked more like the moon during the day. It was hard to spend much time at all outside because of the conditions. Still, what are the odds that you get to experience that?! Especially for me, since I don’t live anywhere near a desert. I have to say, I’m glad in a way that I got to experience it.
As a Christian, it felt amazing to know I was walking where Jesus once walked. I really can’t even put it into words. While we were in Jeruselum, we were able to visit a number of the Christian sights. When we visited the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, we had the chance to touch the Stone of Anointing where it is said that Jesus was anointed before burial. Of course, I don’t think there is any way that can be proved, but I’m sure it’s possible.
I can’t talk about touch without talking about my experience in the Dead Sea. It was really hot that day and I couldn’t wait to get into the water. Much to my surprise, the water was hot, not warm, HOT. It was like hot tub water temperature or warmer. Combined with the 90 degree day, let’s just say I didn’t stay in the water as long as I’d planned. Normally I love a good soak in hot water but since I am pregnant and they advise against hot tubs, I felt that I should limit my time in the glorious water. It was a lot of fun to experience floating in the Dead Sea. I did rub the famous mud all over my body (including my baby belly) and allowed it to dry. It’s an experience I’ll never forget!
Israel was such an amazing experience for me! I have so much more to share about my trip in the coming weeks, so watch for more posts!
Thanks to Vibe Israel for organizing and sponsoring this amazing trip!