Tag Archives: israel

Shopping in the Shuk

31 Oct

I hate bargaining. I want to ask a price, be told what it is, and decide if I want to pay for it. It’s a personal thing. I understand that it’s cultural to bargain. Some people love to bargain. Heck, my mother will bargain at Macy’s. Luckily, those people were on my trip and they could bargain for me at the shuks.

The streets of Israel and Egypt are lined with outdoor shopping called ‘shuks’. Personally, I found the ones in Israel to be full of touristy stuff that I didn’t really need to bring home. Visually, it’s more than an eyeful.


Need a pot, coffee maker, dates or olives?

They tried to get me to buy this for ‘going to disco’. I briefly considered it for Halloween. But, thought better of it.

Spices! How cool is that??

Costume jewelry and leather goods in the shuk. The jewelry is made in the Bedouin style. Using coins and semi precious stones and beads.

Pomegranate juice making inside the walls of Old City of Jerusalem

This last bit is from Egypt. During ancient civilizations, only the kings and queens could have their names written (in hieroglyphics) in a circle. The circle symbolized eternal life or reincarnation. I had this one made for about $20 with my name (not that I believe in reincarnation but, it looked pretty cool).

Religious Thoughts

31 Oct
I felt very conspicuous in Egypt. One, because people kept thinking I spoke Arabic and I had to make that goofy face that says, ‘I’m an American. I only speak English because our public education system doesn’t value multiple languages. Because of that, I speak English and haven’t a clue what you’re saying.’ And two, because I wasn’t wearing a hijab (the fabric Muslim women wear over their head).


I was really intrigued by the hijab. I’d say only 1 out of 10 women were not wearing one and the assumption was they were Christian or foreign. To be frank, I think everyone looked far more beautiful with the head covering. Your eyes were just drawn to their face and strong features. My guide tells me that 30 years ago, few women wore them. But, it’s more common now — and not just for religious women.

Cairo has horrible air quality, lots of sand and wind. Some cover the hair because it’s easier. Others have social pressures to wear it. Personally, I gave up on my hair after the first day. There was enough sand in it to fill a Scrabble timer. I just started twisting and going.

In Israel, I visited the Old City of Jerusalem and walked the Via de la Rosa. There, we stopped at all the stations of the cross. I found the markers along the way visually fascinating.

Here at the Church of the Holy Seplechure, you can enter Jesus’ tomb, touch the slab of rock his body was prepared on, and feel where they cross was planted.


I found the Western Wall / Wailing Wall / Kotel the most interesting. It sits next to the Dome of the Rock. What a juxtaposition of two of the three major monotheocratic religions.

I placed a prayer in a crack of the wall. Men and women must pray on different sides. When done, folks walk away from the wall without turning their back to it (you don’t turn your back on God) and washed their hands. I also read that the wall was erected where God created Adam. Cool, huh?

We’ve got a floater

30 Oct

So this was my second trip to Israel. When I came the first time, I got pretty sick with a flu bug and missed out on seeing much of Jerusalem or doing cool things like floating in the Dead Sea.

(Me at the Sea of Galilee in 2006)


So this time, I made sure we went to the Dead Sea. Seriously, floating in the Dead Sea one of the top five experiences in my life. I can’t describe it. But imagine space. You start to walk and your feet just come out from under you and you just float.

Now, there are some rules about the Dead Sea. The minerals in the water will *kill* your eyes. Or your freshly waxed legs. Imagine a thousand needles being pricked in to your skin. The mineral count is so high, they won’t let you stay in more than 20 mins. When you do get out, your skin in buttery smooth. And your jewelry brilliantly clean.

Another cool thing, is the bottom is salt — no mud, no dirt– just salt. Here’s what I pulled up from the shoreline.

I should note that on the way to the Dead Sea, we stopped by Masada, which a mountain in Israel. Israeli Defense Force recruits used to be sworn in here and many Jews continue to make a pilgrimage.

When I came the first time (actually twice because I came with two groups of kids), I woke up around 3 a.m. (after sleeping in the desert in a Bedouin tent) drove to Masada and hiked an hour or so up Masada at 5:00 a.m. to beat the heat and catch the sunrise.


Luckily, as a group of professional adults we left our Holiday Inn at 9:00 a.m. after a nice breakfast, drove to Masada and took the cable car up.

Here’s a shot on top of Masada where King Harod had what I like to call a Summer Home. The following photos are a model of what the ruins once looked like and the tile floor that was in part of his castle. Half the group wanted to hike back down Masada. Seeing that it was my third visit and it was 105 degrees that day, I waited for the next cable car.



One of those people

30 Oct

There are two kinds of people in the world.

There are those who travel to interesting places like New York City and Istanbul and eat the local food at independent restaurants, and those who beeline to American chain restaurants like Ruby Tuesday. I consider myself to be a part of the former group.

I am too impatient for group trips, I don’t quite understand repeat vacations (the Bahamas every year on a three day cruise with the same ports of call) and I don’t do chain restaurants on a first date. I mean, I sew. Inherently, I want to be unique and different. Eating at those places is asking to have my Buppie card revoked.

Would you like fries with that?

So imagine my chagrin when I found myself eating at McDonald’s not once, not twice, but FOUR times in 10 days!

1. Breakfast in Israel is fruit, hard boiled eggs, and salad. I like all of these things. I like all of these things for breakfast in fact. I loved the olives. But, after a week, I was missing my carbs. I *need* french fries and starch in my life.


2. Apparently, olives eaten by the kilo make you retain water and turn you into weird Aunt Sue. You know Aunt Sue. She’s the aunt who pays you a nickel to rub her swollen feet. I do not care for my 30s if this means my feet swell up like I’m nine months pregnant.

3. You can’t drink the water or eat the veggies in Egypt. This includes ice. Three accidents later, I just started going to McDonald’s. It is not cool to have stomach discomfort when you speak neither Hebrew nor Arabic. McDonald’s veggies come prepackaged from headquarters and they use filtered water for ice.

4. My first day in Egypt, I watched a dinner companion eat pigeon. Came out on the plate like a little Cornish hen. Honestly, haven’t had meat in four days.


Finally, thank heaven Egypt is Pepsi country. While I love the Kosher ‘real sugar not corn syrup’ Coke of Israel, I was really missing my Moutain Dew. I truly squealed with delight when I came across this at the Sheraton in Luxor.


This one’s for you Carolyn! I tried to bring some home, but security threw them away.