Tag Archives: travel

ISRAEL TRIP – shooting school and Hebron

This day I took the kids to CALIBER 3, a combat shooting / martial arts training school.  Originally I’d intended to do a full-day course with the wife and kids taking a short course in shooting and an hour of krav maga training… but the wife didn’t want to come, so I switched to just doing what the kids were scheduled to do.  (Unsupervised & bored kids + shooting range = recipe for disaster.)  But first, lunch – which I was thrilled with, but – like with the whole trip, the kids were picky-picky-picky with eating.




To truly be in the mood, I bought an IDF BDU; and man, I need to get in shape.  (My standard joke: “I am in shape… ’round’ is a shape,” but really, have to get back on the wagon both diet and exercise wise.)



On the firing line.  Most participants were from New York, and barely knew one end of a gun from the other.  I was amused – during the initial briefing with wooden guns, everyone had their fingers on the trigger but me.  I had, even with a fake gun, good “trigger discipline,” which led to the instructor calling me out and saying “You’ve handled guns before.”  My reply, with a wide grin, “Oh, a time or two.”



On the road to Hebron after the shooting school.  Hebron is an Arab town.  Apparently, through intermediaries, Jews manage to purchase a building but the government doesn’t let them move in due to the dangers… but houses continue to be bought now and then.  What was more interesting were the graffiti: Israeli stars and Hebrew signs drawn on saying “This is our land.”



Approaching the Tomb of our ancestors… we arrived and were walking up the steps when the calls to prayer from the mosque came on.  Interspersed with that were calls of “Allahu akhbar!”  (Allah is greater!)  It was more than a little disconcerting – knowing there were a just a few border guard soldiers between me and the kids and a town whose inhabitants, given the chance, would enthusiastically kill us.

This is the reality: the Arabs don’t want peace or coexistence.  They want a destroyed Israel fertilized by the blood of slaughtered Jews.  And even the current warming of relations between Israel and many Arab nations is something I suspect is due only to the threat of Iran (Shia) vs. the Arabs (Sunni) – and even before Islam, the Arabs and Persians have hated each other something fierce; were Iran to cease being a threat the Arabs would quickly turn on Israel, with Israel having been an ally-of-convenience until such a time as the alliance is no longer needed.















Skipped a day – three – because it was Shabbat.  This day we drove from Jerusalem to Masada and the Dead Sea.

Looking back at Jerusalem, about to go through the tunnel that leads to the desert…



And through the tunnel.  Note the change in the level of greenery…



Bedouin encampment – I’d really not even call it a “village” – to the right.  Apparently, from my host, to claim the “Bedouin” moniker they’re supposed to move every so often.



Well below sea level at this point.



Jericho to the left in the distance… the green is a large grove of date palms.



Masada visitor’s center:



Had initially planned on hiking up, but…

  1. Am way out of shape! 😦  Next time for sure, though!
  2. Time.  We also wanted to get to the Dead Sea.



Looking back down at the visitor’s center.



The largest of the water cisterns.  Huge.  Apparently Herod figured out how to channel the water from winter rains to Masada to fill this, and the other, cisterns.



The Roman encampment from when they attacked.



You can see the start of the ramp the Romans built to get up to the top.



And now to the Dead Sea.  Sorry, no pictures of me bobbing like a cork.



A Sabra – or prickly-pear – cactus:



Lastly, I get a picture of myself in front of McDonalds when I travel overseas.



A view from the apartment in Jerusalem:



Starting to walk:



Ben Yehuda helped invent modern Hebrew by creating all sorts of words that biblical Hebrew did not have… i.e., modern things like gloves, and ice cream, and so on – in a large part, he is the father of the currently-used language:



Pizza Hut is everywhere… (and kosher too – so no sausage!!!)



I bought a few kippot here.



Streets in modern Jerusalem…



Yes, I needed coffee (body still being back on the East coast) – well-named!



Approaching the Old City…



The below picture is of an Arab area… every once in a while, through an intermediary, a Jew manages to buy a house.  And usually the person who sold it gets arrested – selling a house to a Jew is a capital offense.



The sense of history and millennia are everywhere… 



The Western Wall (Kotel):



Prayers inserted into the wall.  This is the women’s section; the wife borrowed my phone as her battery died.


This was Friday afternoon; we took a taxi to the apartment.  Israel pretty much shuts down for Shabbat.  I wanted to go food shopping at 3:30 PM and, on the way to the market, was told it was already closed & shuttered.  This is a country that lives the Faith.

Fortunately we had enough food in the apartment to make it through to when the stores opened again… but that was more by luck than deliberate intent.


This December I took the family to Israel; I hadn’t been in 25 years – and when I last went I was visiting my (now late) grandmother, so I didn’t see much.  Obviously pictures that have family members are not shown, but…

Arrival in Ben Gurion airport, and the mob to get through immigration:



Picked up by my friend, we drove towards Jerusalem.



Stopping at an open-air military museum (and training center) for tanks that also has a radar that tracks migrating birds.



On to Jerusalem proper:



Walking around… I come to Israel and find Pringles?  ROFL!



Shopping in the Shouk (market):



I come to Israel and find… Corona?



I come to Israel… and find Hellman’s?



Dinner my first day.  Yum!


Saturday Night Silliness – Traveler Feedback Edition

THESE ARE ACTUAL COMPLAINTS RECEIVED BY “THOMAS COOK VACATIONS” FROM DISSATISFIED CUSTOMERS (at least, I’m taking the “actual” at face value from where I’m swiping these…):

1. “I think it should be explained in the brochure that the local convenience store does not sell proper biscuits like custard creams or ginger nuts.”

2. “It’s lazy of the local shopkeepers in Puerto Vallarta to close in the afternoons.  I often needed to buy things during ‘siesta’ time — this should be banned.”

3. “On my holiday to Goa in India, I was disgusted to find that almost every restaurant served curry. I don’t like spicy food.”

4. “We booked an excursion to a water park but no-one told us we had to bring our own swimsuits and towels. We assumed it would be included in the price.”

5. “The beach was too sandy. We had to clean everything when we returned to our room.”

6. “We found the sand was not like the sand in the brochure. Your brochure shows the sand as white but it was more yellow.”

7. “They should not allow topless sunbathing on the beach. It was very distracting for my husband who just wanted to relax.”

8. “No-one told us there would be fish in the water. The children were scared.”

9. “Although the brochure said that there was a fully equipped kitchen, there was no egg-slicer in the drawers.”

10. “We went on holiday to Spain and had a problem with the taxi drivers as they were all Spanish.”

11. “The roads were uneven and bumpy, so we could not read the local guide book during the bus ride to the resort. Because of this, we were unaware of many things that would have made our holiday more fun.”

12. “It took us nine hours to fly home from Jamaica to England. It took the Americans only three hours to get home. This seems unfair.”

13. “I compared the size of our one-bedroom suite to our friends’ three-bedroom and ours was significantly smaller.”

14. “The brochure stated: ‘No hairdressers at the resort.’  We’re trainee hairdressers and we think they knew and made us wait longer for service.”

15. “When we were in Spain, there were too many Spanish people there. The receptionist spoke Spanish, the food was Spanish. No one told us that there would be so many foreigners.”

16. “We had to line up outside to catch the boat and there was no air-conditioning.”

17. “It is your duty as a tour operator to advise us of noisy or unruly guests before we travel.”

18. “I was bitten by a mosquito. The brochure did not mention mosquitoes.”

19. “My fiancee and I requested twin-beds when we booked, but instead we were placed in a room with a king bed. We now hold you responsible and want to be re-reimbursed for the fact that I became pregnant. This would not have happened if you had put us in the room that we booked.