A typical Middle Eastern "Welcome!"

The problem with blogging from memory via sifting through your photos is that if you didn’t take a picture of something, it didn’t happen.

I had originally intended for my sensational journey to be retold in chronological order but apparently, that ain’t happenin’.

Upon digging the itnerary out of my crusty suitcase, I recalled all the amazing things that I did but weren’t able to take photos of.

1. We visited Yad Vashem, the intense interactive museum of the Holocaust. This subject has always been a big interest of mine and this place is the holy grail of historical overload. It’s an emotional place.

2. We spent half the day at an Israeli Air Force base, getting to explore a Hercules transport plane, having lunch with the IDF soldiers after they let us stand just off the runway as four F-16′s take off. It feels as if they are going to rip your insides out as they pass.

3. We floated in the Dead Sea. Now, I thought it best to leave the camera in the bus for two reasons. One, I didn’t want to get my camera wet. Two, I didn’t want any photographic evidence of me in all my shirtlessness.

Floating in the Dead Sea is effortless.

You walk in (not having shaved, unless you’re a masochist and never really understood the expression “Rubbing salt in the wound”) sit down in the water and the hefty salt content (which no fish can survive in) naturally floats your fat ass to the top.

My one comment, while watching the overweight tourists sit their psoriasis ridden butts in the water, is that there was a sickening film coating the top. I could only determine this was a result of the revolting skin oils of my abhorrant neighbors.

I was sitting in SKIN SOUP!!

4. I’m sure I missed some ancient ruins visited. If I didn’t take a picture, it must have not left an impression.

And let’s face it. Ruins all look the same after a while. Not much I can do with all that tan!

OK!

The next morning, we woke up and drove north to the Golan Heights, which is right on the border of Lebanon and Syria.

We spent the next hour exploring a really cool abandoned Israeli fort/bunker, which used to be one of my favorite things to do.

Growing up, every summer we’d visit Fort Warden in Washington State and I’d spend hours roaming the spooky corridors and scaring my sister until she peed her pants….and I mean visibly. Or did she do that to me?

The only difference is that while our tour guide (haven’t introduced you to Ezra yet, have I? Pardon me, very rude. Ezra is our walking dictionary tour guide who knows absolutely everything about Israel) was telling us about whatever (I wasn’t listening, I was roaming the bunker) we kept hearing very loud Israeli tank fire.

I couldn’t help but stare at the Syrian hillside, listen to the sonic booms and imagine myself in a war time situation. I’m sure some peeing of the pants would be going on if that became reality. I practically pee myself getting off the wrong exit on the 405 freeway!

Entrance to the fort/bunker

Descending into the underground bunker.... And she was never heard from again...

Technically referred to as "that thing that held the big guns and stuff"

Lovely view of Syria. Gorgeous this time of year.

We then did a brief hike at the Banias Nature Reserve at the base of Mount Hermon. Pretty hike, really pretty waterfall.

This is the only time you'll see me pictured on this trip. Soak it up.

"Don't go chasing...."

View of the Lebanon Border

The Famous 2000 year old "Jesus Boat"

Sea of Galilee, the area Jesus chilled out, taught, played Mahjong

Sea of Galilee - Different Flowers

Flowers amidst the backdrop of an ancient olive oil press

That evening, we had dinner at a Churrascaria on the waterfront, for all the meat we could handle.

Suddenly, there was a boat approaching, decorated in lights and sparklers, announcing our group’s arrival over his intercom. A bit odd but a nice gesture. “Are we gonna have to tip for this?” I wondered.

Brick of Onion Rings

Pesto Salmon

Delicious Dead Things

Later, we checked into our next hotel on the Sea of Galilee (which is actually a lake) where I was greeted by a hot tub and dry sauna IN MY ROOM. That and a bottle of wine and chocolates.

I spent a lovely, romantic evening by myself. Sneezing myself into oblivion, taking meds and stuffing chocolates in my mouth even though I could not taste them.

I comically attempted to use the hot tub, who’s spouts merely drooled hot water, so I got out after ten minutes feeling foolish and feverish.

This was my hospice for two days

The next day we visited Migdal Ohr, which is the mini city that Rabbi Grossman (amazing fella) took over to house and school homeless children. Rabbi Grossman gave us a brief presentation, showed us around the compound (those kids were obsessed with him).

He basically started raising money and buying up buildings in the unsavory parts of town, transforming them and literally creating a city of children.

Rabbi Grossman showing us his hood

Then we drove to Haifa. That’s all I have to say about Haifa. Oh, it’s pretty. Not sure what else goes on there, we were only there for about an hour. I sure hope you don’t visit my site to actually learn anything!

The Beautiful city of Haifa. "Haifa" sounds like a Japanese person coughing.

Another view of Haifa

Chicken Shwarma - The Turkey Sandwich of Israel

Our first and only Baklava on the trip. Sad.

A wide array of children's goods just in time for Christmas

Aquaduct built by King Herod

Seaside Ruins of...crap! Beats me.

Our last item of the day was to visit Better Place, an electric car company started by a very successful businessman who wanted to give back to Israel.

What sets these cars apart from other electric vehicles is that, instead of plugging your car in and killing an hour at WalMart while it charges, you simply drive into a battery replacement station and in four minutes, you’re on your way with a fresh battery.

They cost about as much as a Prius but are much larger and nicer looking.

Then, we all got to test drive them!

I was a bit dissapointed they didn’t have any cardboard cutouts of pedestrians on the driving route. How on earth would I know how this car works in the real world??

Watching the video demonstration sitting on reclaimed car seats

"Plug it in, Plug it in!"