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Posts tagged ‘Israel’

Art, Wine, and Miracles – A Road Trip in Israel

In America we call them “Roadside Attractions” – the enticing wonders that dot country highways.  Advertising sensational things like 20 foot long alligator mummies or the world’s biggest dollhouse, these sights are usually good for a laugh, a rest stop, and an ice cream before heading back on the road.  Mostly they are quirky, kitschy tourist stops, but occasionally you find a gem.  I’ve come to realize that these places are not limited to the US.  Here’s the story of one such incredible find in Israel, a figuratively and literally miraculous place.

Israel road to Nazareth to Cana

On the road leaving Nazareth

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Mosaic Treasures at Sepphoris, Israel

You may never have heard of Sepphoris but this former Roman city has some fantastic mosaics.  Also known as Tzippori or Zippori , this archaeological site in the Western Galilee has been excavated over the last 30 years revealing wonderful treasures.  Ignored by tour buses, I had the site to myself  and could enjoy the best and most extensive collection of ancient mosaic art in Israel.

The Mona Lisa of Galilee, Sepphoris

This Roman mosaic Venus is known as “The Mona Lisa of Galilee” for her beauty and enigmatic smile.

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Street Food in Israel

I am captivated by street food and open food markets.  Sliding into already crowded streets, the colors, smells, and variety of the stalls are fantastic for exploring and getting to know a new destination.  Cities and regions can be defined by their offerings.  The character of the street food reveals something about a place and its culture.

falafel in Jerusalem

Making Falafel in Jerusalem. I’m pretty sure I ate the ones frying in this picture.

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A Hotel with its Own Archaeological Ruins

hostel view

Terrific view of old city from the roof deck of the Akko Knights Youth Hostel (Photo from hostel)

I wrote recently about the old historic core of Acre (or Akko), Israel which is packed with Crusader era ruins.  Since Acre is mostly a day-tripper’s destination, we stayed a night in the only accommodations in the old city – a youth hostel.  Apparently you can’t dig anywhere in the Acre without discovering an archaeological site!  I was surprised to find that our youth hostel had its own set of ruins on site and did an excellent job exhibiting them as natural elements of the hostel premise.

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Crusader Acre

Akko ocean fortification from the Crusader era

One edge of square shaped Acre abuts the ocean ad is heavily fortified

For approximately the 12th and 13th century, Acre (or Akko) served as the capitol of the Crusader kingdom of Palestine.  A valuable port city on the Mediterranean, Acre received soldier and supplies as waves of European warriors landed.  This city also prospered as a trading hub between Europe and the near East.  The old city of Acre and the Crusader structures therein are well preserved and provide a glimpse into this bloody period of history.  But what I found in Acre was a well established historical city with elegant architecture suggesting a more stable community during a very violent period in the region.

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