Images from Egypt

What I saw and wish I had pictures of:

A Preteen kid on a bike herding a running cow down the street 

Raw carcass hanging from the ceiling and an old man smoking a hookah next to it

Boys walking around with a clear plastic bag filled with licorice juice and a straw twisty-tied to make a disposable drink

An old man on the side of the road with a flat cardboard on his head as a hat selling packets of tissues 

On the highway there was a man riding a motorcycle with a white box on the back of motorcycle and as we passed by another man popped out of the box.

In the local souq (market) a guy has a gun resting on his lap nonchalantly.

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Old fashion games without water toys

   
We brought our goggles, puddle jumpers, one young lady’s swim cap and found some empty disposable water bottles.

  

We had the entire day to burn and with a swimming pool and imagination and lack of toys, we dived right in. 

Mermaid imagination happened.

The kids dove for coins.

And played swimming under the bridge. (The bridge being my legs…)

When the kids tired out, we whipped out audiobooks and relaxed in the shade. 

    

With water came an ice bucket that provided an hour of fun for the littlest.

    
And when we headed out, we rung this little lady’s hair because the hair cap couldn’t keep it all dry.  It was a fun pool experience! No rules like no running, or no glass bottles or not yelling. Just silliness and sun!

Our Top Spots for Israel

In no particular order is this list of our favorite locations in Israel.

1.  Tel Aviv has great international food, a very active community and opportunities to do a lot outdoors. There’s the beach, parks, running trails, walkable neighborhoods, outdoor dining, flea markets & Carmel craft market to name a few.

The food is fresh, well-made, fun (we went to a chocolate restaurant for dinner!), exceptional fresh squeezed fruit juices and outstanding Israeli fare particularly for breakfast.

    

Tel Aviv is like a smaller New York of the Middle East.

2. Dead Sea and local beaches

When you visit you are at the lowest point on earth. That’s cool enough (or should I say hottest because it does get warm) but on top of that  you get in the water and can’t swim underwater but only bob up and float.

 

Crystallized minerals on Little Man

     

There’s a lot to enjoy here with the beauty surrounding the sea but a few things to be aware of.

You get out and you feel oily. I can’t describe it but you just feel yucky. I thought it would be like salty and gritty but the combination of minerals makes it a oily post-experience. But you also have salt crystals on your body, it’s wild!

If you have any cuts or open wounds, they will sting but it might not occur until afterwards or later on in your swim. We had a great time until our kids started fussing about the water burning, 15 or 20 minutes into the visit.

3. Sea of Galilee & Nazareth

Beyond the Biblical and historical  significance of this region, the beauty is incredible.

There are many short drives to a lot of sites. Cana (Jesus turns the water into wine), Tiberius, Mt. Of Beatitudes (Sermon on the Mount),  Nazareth, Mt. Tabor, Capernaum & Bethsaida.

Learning how to thread the wool

Below is the place believed to be Peter’s home and where Jesus spent the night.  

   The Sea of Galilee and the surrounding hills are beautiful!

Pack food as you may find yourself without restaurants depending on the time of day or location.

4. Ein Gedi is an oasis among the Dead Sea desert-like land. King Solomon wrote of it in Song of Solomon  and mentions of the Henna trees of Ein Gedi.

This is also the location of David’s cave and where he cut off  part of King Saul’s robe.

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The kids had a grand time being out in nature and using sticks for walking.

If we lived nearby, we would go there often!

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Warrior Pose in David’s cave

 

It was beautiful  and warm. Be prepared for sunny weather and wear clothes accordingly. There’s several fresh waterfalls and pools. It was a delightful way to cool off.

5.  Jerusalem, we can’t forget this rich in history city. Via Dolorosa is the path Jesus took with the cross. Mount of Olives was also a significant stop. An hour trip outside leads you to Bethlehem.

Though this city is divided between Armenians, Muslims, & Jews, it’s a  relatively friendly and fun city. Be aware of the situation and mindful.

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We followed the footsteps of Jesus as he was arrested and carried the cross.

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Shopping markets

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Where they believe Jesus’ body was crucified

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Inside the church built over the crucifixion site

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Beautiful church!

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An altar for Jesus’ tomb

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The wailing wall-West Wall inside Old City Jerusalem

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Panoramic view

IMG_0222Garden of Gathsemene

This trip was wonderful and we were so thankful to go on it! I know this is such a thrown together post but it gives our highlights!

Observations on Turkey

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1. All the hotels we stayed in smelled like antiseptic from Japanese hospitals.

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2. Don’t ever be concerned about your body odor here, yours is not half as bad as the guy next to you.

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3. We rarely found an English speaking Turk, especially in the rural parts.

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4. Rural pharmacies will give you medicine without prescriptions but ones in Istanbul put up a fuss without a doctor’s note.

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5. Non-smoking hotel rooms mean no one is smoking in them right now….

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6. Men proudly push the baby strollers.

6 Must-Have Items When Traveling Overseas

As we wait for the winter storm to end and are stuck inside our temporary house, there are a few items we packed in our suitcases that I am very thankful to have.

1. Waterproof mats
If you have a child who wets the bed, these sturdy mats are awesome! I have washed them countless times and they are like new.

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2. Our $5 silicone iPhone speaker
While I know it’s not an apple-approved product, this speaker is the bomb! It fits our 5c phones perfectly snug and radiates the sounds well. Kid-proof (personally tested), waterproof (I assume), battery-less and cordless, & cheap, this gadget is a keeper.

3. Familiar cereals and snacks
I don’t typically encourage eating packaged foods but for international travel, it’s a convenient way to satisfy your kids’ homesick symptoms.

4. Games (iPad and boardgame)
When we left our previous home we didn’t know about the snow storm. We have been stuck in the temporary house for most of each day with a short outing to another friend’s home for an hour or two of reprieve. Uno, Go Fish, racing ipad games, checkers and other games have kept our minds a bit more active despite the gray weather and jetlag.

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5. Rag towels
Really, it’s been nice to have such a resourceful item. It’s useful for the occasional spills and in a pinch is great as a blanket or even tucked as a pillow.

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6. Liquid melatonin
I was looking for something natural to help adjust the kids’ sleep cycles other than the typical Benedryl idea. A friend mentioned to me about liquid melatonin and tried it out. It works like a charm for our kids! They usually just need help to settle down and fall asleep. And this does the trick for us!

*Updated word of caution: A commenter mentioned there are cautionary side effects when taking melatonin. I am not a doctor but just write what works for us. To each, one must decide for themselves.

For us, using a low dose of melatonin 3 or 4 nights in a row was just what we needed. Others may find otherwise. Always do your own research and consider your needs and weigh your decisions.

What have you found to be invaluable as you travel?