Well we made it to Israel yesterday around noon local time with only a small amount of turbulence on the 10 hour plane ride from JFK. It was so cool looking on the flight map as we flew over Greece, the Aegean Sea, Turkey and finally into Tel Aviv. I cannot believe we are actually here. If you had asked me 5 years ago what countries I would have visited before I turned 30, Israel would not have been on my radar. Just shows you how God’s plan is usually quite different from your own.
We drove from the airport in Tel Aviv to Jerusalem through some beautiful hilly countryside, riddled with planted fields and farms. As we came over a hill, the beautiful city of Jerusalem was spread before us, climbing up and over hills and carved into ridges. It was quite a spectacular sight. We drove up to the Haas Promenade from which we could see the entire city of Jerusalem, the newer west Jerusalem to the left, the Old City of King David directly in front, and the Mount of Olives and older east Jerusalem to the right (Jerusalem was united into a single city in 1967). It was so overwhelming to see with my own eyes the ancient walls of King David’s city and the Mount of Olives, where Jesus ascended into Heaven three days after his resurrection.
However, the rest of the day was not spent visiting the Holy sites (that is for tomorrow). The rest of the day involved food...lots and lots of food. And I LOVE food. I have fully accepted that I will never be a skinny girl because I love food too much. We spent the rest of the day in the Machaneh Yehuda produce market, a maze-like farmer’s market that serves the highest quality produce, fish, breads and grains, cheeses, poultry and meats, and confections. A local well known chef named Tali met us and took us to various stalls to sample some of Israel’s finest delicacies. We sampled granola, nuts, tea, dried cocoanut, and Halva (a confection made with sesame paste and sugar). My favorite part of all the food was the cheese. We sampled some of the rarest and voted best cheeses in the world. God must love cheese too because he decided that his best supply of cheese would be located in his Holy City; and not in a massive beautifully decorated shop in the wealthiest part of town, but in a small, nondescript stall packed with cheese. That is just how God works.
After visiting the stalls, we went up to Tali’s rooftop restaurant where she cooked an 8 course dinner for us with all fresh middle eastern ingredients. I don’t think I knew how much I loved to eat before last night. I am in love with Middle Eastern food (of course I am 1/4 Lebanese, but I’m not broadcasting that while I’m in Israel). I am glad we will be walking all week or else I would probably go back to America at least 10 pounds heavier.
We returned to the King David Hotel, where we are staying this week. The hotel has housed kings and queens, presidents, celebrities, and every person of note who has ever come to Jerusalem. This is where we are staying for 2 nights while in Jerusalem. Pretty awesome.
This morning, we woke up to the sounds of bells and witnessed the sun rising over the Old City from our window. It was pretty spectacular. I thank God that He has brought us here to see his Holy sites with our own eyes. Today we will visit the Holy sites. I will post again tonight or tomorrow with pictures and descriptions of everything we see. Prayers for a safe and enlightening day!