Travel Observations – Israel

Israeli Market place dried fruit

This post is long overdue. In January of 2018, my wife and I were able to travel to Israel with her mother for a pilgrimage. If you had asked me before this trip if Israel were one of my top ten travel/vacation destinations, I would have said absolutely no. If you couple this by seeing myself as a person who is more spiritual than religious, I had no longing desire to go initially.

For many, I think Israel is a religious destination, and that is 100 percent true, but there is so much more to this country. If you have an interest in history, art, politics, food, or just a beautiful country, it is well worth the visit. This experience was one of the best trips.

Monica and I

On this trip, we traveled with forty other people. We would go from historic site to site lead by the most fantastic guide (he made all the difference in the learning).

I am a person who notices things that most people don’t care about at all. This talent or annoyance, I get to take it everywhere.

Tech

  • While traveling overseas, it is incredible how roaming on another mobile network can crush your battery. I relied on an external battery back and low power mode during the day.
  • In the group of 40 people, there were four full-time iPad photographers
    • (1) iPad Mini
    • (1) iPad 9.7
    • (2) iPad Pro 12.9 ( it was impressive to see these people whip out the giant tablets to take images)
  • As far as phones, there were a few iPhone X’s (this was just after the release), but there were a lot of 8 and 8+’s
  • I took the 8+, and the low light camera has been unbelievable in most of the very dark churches. With the phone set to automatic flash, it did not go off once
  • I am only traveling with an iPad Pro 10.5 and iPhone, and it has been great. For some reason, i felt as though I had extreme mobility more than in the past.

Misc

Stone Keyway ‎⁨Masada⁩, ⁨Southern District⁩, ⁨Israel⁩
‎⁨Masada⁩, ⁨Southern District⁩, ⁨Israel⁩
  • The preservation of the churches and synagogues and artwork is unbelievable.
  • Most signage is in 3 languages – Hebrew, Arabic, and English.
  • I came thinking I would be reading a lot more and watching movies in the evening but usually very tired after a day of touring. Some days we covered 7 miles or more on foot.
  • The country is very mountainous, ranging in height from 800 feet above sea level to minus 400 feet below sea level (Dead Sea). The lowest place below sea level.
  • We were able to visit the Dead Sea, which was terrific. I did not go in, but many of our traveling companions did. I had not brought a disposable change of clothing with me.
  • Excellent American coffee was hard to come by. I drank a lot more espresso there, which is my preference, but many of our companions struggled. If you love Turkish coffee, you would also be fine.
  • The pictures I took on this trip were really incredible and these do not do the locations justice.
  • A small snack can of Pringles costs $6 American.

Traveling and Random Thoughts

Over the past two years, my family and I have had the extraordinary opportunity to travel more than we ever have. Each trip has been amazing. During each trip, I collected a list of random thoughts from each location. I am going to write up my observations of each destination.

Disney Observations

This year Monica and I had the chance to take the kids to Disney World. It was a quick trip, three day taste of the sites and where we might want to spend more time in the future. The last time I was there the Epcot dome looked like the Death Star (it was still being built). This is just a few random observations I had over the trip.

  • I hate roller coasters and many of the rides are roller coasters in disguise (but I made it through all of them).
  • The ability to use FastPass to skip a few lines a day is necessary (IMO) if you have small children.
  • The addition of the magic bands to allow you to pay and move through the park is phenomenal. 
  • Apple Pay works amazing in the park if you dont have wrist bands or do not want to charge things to your room.
  • The accessibility within the park for those who need assistance is like nothing I have ever seen.  So well done.
  • Wifi thorughout the parks was very good – much better than standard hotel wifi you might find on a business trip
  • Logistics to run the park must be on the scale of trying to host an Olympic event every single day
  • Selfie sticks are a real thing and are everywhere. At one point during the trip there was an area with 50 or more in the air.  It looked like some odd tribal group with spears in the air.
  • The iPhone app was very handy for looking at how long the lines are for rides, finding snacks and navigating the park in general.
  • I still hate roller coasters
  • Comfy shoes are a must! We were in the park approximately 4-6 hours a day and we walked at least 8 miles (12.87k) a day.
  • If you forget something you can rent it. (scooters, cameras, strollers, etc.)
  • Transportations to the various parks was so well done.
  • I manage many large projects at a time for work but I couldn’t have planned this trip with out the help of a travel agent (thanks Mary!) to help you book your trip, dinner reservations, fast pass rides.  There are just so many little details to consider. 
  • Seeing people walking around eating these GIANT turkey legs was bizarre.
  • The amount of land the parks occupies is crazy 
  • Many people go to the park really really late to shorten the wait in lines.

It was a great trip and I am so glad we did it.