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Old 9th September 2014, 17:31   #1
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Default Israel - Living during the Conflict

This is my first Travelogue in Team-BHP and I am not a good writer as well. But this is one trip I couldn't let go without writing.

Work profile requires travelling for months together, but usually to Financial Capitals & western Countries. This time it was a destination with a difference - Jerusalem, Israel. I had to travel for 2 months somewhere around 1st July and start working on the project.

I didn't know what to expect from the trip to Israel and what I started to see and hear on TV dint help either. Wifey doesn't watch TV too much and no news channels at all, this helped a lot as Wifey dint make any unnecessary drama when I told her I was travelling to Israel for few months.

Timelines before my Travel -

12th June - It was decided that I will have to travel to Israel for the project, the same day 3 Israeli teenagers were kidnapped

13th June – Started preparation to apply for Visa, Israel forces started searching for the missing teenagers

14th to 30th June – The news was not very encouraging of the situation, rockets were being fired upon Israel and the ceasefire was about to collapse

3rd July – I got my visa and Israel started Operation Protective Edge

In between this I was preparing myself for the travel on 5th July. The flight was from Bangalore through Doha, Amman to Tel Aviv.

Few Random photos

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Reaching Israel and my First Day

I started my travel on 5th July from Bangalore. Amman airport is a small and old airport, the new airport is being built next to the existing airport. After a layover of around 6 hours in Amman, I reached Tel Aviv at night 9:30 PM. Immigration check was a breeze as I had not travelled to any of the middle eastern countries before. If you have any Middle Eastern Countries, Malaysia or Bangladesh stamp then expect some questioning in the Immigration at Tel Aviv.

Came out of the airport and had to take cab to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. In the night the cost is around 330 ILS (100 USD) if you take an individual taxi and 60 ILS if you take a shared taxi. The shared taxi can accommodate 10 passenger and will drop you to doorstep, but the shared cab will go all around Jerusalem neighbourhood before dropping you. It’s a good way to see Jerusalem though for 60 ILS

I took an individual taxi as it was late and I was too tired to sit another 2 hours in the shared taxi. From the moment I came out of the airport till the time I reached my flat in Jerusalem, I really felt that this is not going to be a normal trip as usual.

Outside the Airport there were young boys and girls (not more than 21-22 years old) in uniform with heavy guns slung on their shoulder. On the way to Jerusalem the taxi driver took high way 443 which takes you through the West Bank. The road was heavily fenced on both sides and there were observation posts, check posts and heavy security present on the road. Finally after a 50 minutes’ drive from the airport I reach my flat at Ramot in Jerusalem.

I got fresh and immediately crashed on the bed as I had to join the office next day at 8 AM. I reached office around 8 AM in the morning and it was an interesting start to the project. Usually when we go to a new project, the head of the program calls in for a meeting and gives all kind of gyan to save his skin. That day Company’s country head had called in for a briefing session, so having arrived just that day I went to the meeting imagining that it will be another pep talk session to achieve the impossible as always. I was surprised in the meeting, the briefing session was all about the current situation in Israel and what to do in case there is a Siren. I was a bit lost, so sheepishly asked what siren and where? There was a silence in the meeting room and I could feel that everyone was looking at me with amusement. The country head realizing that I had just landing, told everyone the same and explained me about the rockets being fired into Israel.

If you hear a Siren, then run to nearest designated safe place or just follow the instruction of the security personal. I thought it’s easy and then realized the instructions and the directions are in Hebrew, so pointed the same in the meeting. Now everyone in the meeting room started explaining me how to read Hebrew, understand the signs etc., but then 1 intelligent lady said to me, listen you just run behind the locals when there is siren, ok, you understand. I said yes without a choice. But I could never imagine that the suggestion given by the lady would be so useful in the future

Time to talk about the place, Israel

Israel is an amazing place to travel, it’s a mix of everything you can ask for in a tourist destination with fantastic Mediterranean beaches, amazing nightlife in Tel Aviv, religious places, big city, good food, deserts, friendly people and interesting situation.
July and August is summer in Israel and also summer vacation for schools. The temperature and humidity can get uncomfortable sometimes, especially if someone is used to Bangalore weather. I had never traveled to a hot and humid weather condition before and I really struggled at times while travelling.

I left my digital SLR camera behind and took only the small Sony camera. Unlike other tourist places there are no tourist taking photos everywhere, actually there are hardly any people taking photos in the beaches, religious places, markets or tourist spots. It’s a kind of uncomfortable to be the only person to go on a clicking spree. Also many of the local don’t appreciate if they feel that you might have captured them in the photos and there is a security concern as well.

Jerusalem
Jerusalem is the Capital of Israel, but not many Countries recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. It is the holy city for 3 religions – Judaism, Christianity and Islam. The population of Israel is around 900K.

In layman’s term, Jerusalem is a very religious and old city. The city is divided in to Jerusalem and Old/East Jerusalem. All most all the important sites are in east Jerusalem and also most of the conflict/protest in Jerusalem happens within East Jerusalem. There is old city which is 100’s of years old and the new settlements being built in Jerusalem

Important sites in Old Jerusalem are – Temple Mount, Al-Aqsa Mosque, Dome of the Rock, Western Wall, Mount Moriah, Old City Gates, Jewish Quarter, Armenian Quarter, Muslim Quarter, The Way of the Cross, City of David, King David's Tomb, Basilica of the Agony/Garden of Gethsemane and Mt Olives

Shabbat – Shabbat is a Jewish day of rest. Shabbat starts just before sunset on Friday and end after the sunset on Saturday. The reason I am mentioning this information here is because it will affect your life if you are in Israel, especially Jerusalem. Everything is closed started from Friday evening, transportation, malls, public places, hotels, pubs everything. Literally everything is closed and doesn’t open till Saturday night. This means you don’t have transportation and hotels if you want to go out and none of the public sites are open as well. So literally you have to complete you site seeing in few hours on Friday and return home before 5 PM.

Last edited by chandrda : 12th September 2014 at 09:25.
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Old 9th September 2014, 18:44   #2
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Random Photos of Jerusalem City

I am not a good photographer at all, please excuse my photos.

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American style strip mall without the parking area
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Yehudi Market. It was almost like a flee market and very popular among the Americans and Europeans
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Yehudi Market again
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Old City Market, where you can find almost all kind of accessories. Pretty popular with the tourist and Ladies. Security is very high in the market. The street of the market is very very narrow with shops on both sides.

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Last edited by chandrda : 12th September 2014 at 09:06.
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Old 9th September 2014, 20:46   #3
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Default re: Israel - Living during the Conflict

Excellent thread. Waiting for more updates.

The car scene has some similarities. Can spot the new generation Corolla Altis and its older version, Skoda Octavia, Elantra etc.

And out of curiosity - what sort of industries are present in Isreal?


I hope that all members stay away from discussing politics on this thread!
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Old 11th September 2014, 20:53   #4
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Dead Sea & Masada

Dead Sea is the lowest point on Earth where you can stand, its 1,401 Ft below sea level. Dead Sea has a salinity of 34% and it one of the world's saltiest bodies of water. This makes the environment very harsh for animals to survive, hence the name Dead Sea

Dead Sea is almost 50 KMS long and lies between Israel, Palestine and Jordan. There are many health spa and resort you can visit in Dead Sea Area. The one which I wanted to visit was Ein Gedi public beach and Spa. Ein Gedi is 85 KMS away from Jerusalem and there are many public buses available throughout the day except for Friday Evening and Saturday.

You can hire a tax for around 1000 ILS, which can accommodate 4 people and will take you to Dead Sea, Masada and Qumran Caves. Since I was travelling alone, I decided to take the public transport which is cheap, safe and efficient.

Bus take around 1hr 10 mins to reach Ein Gedi Public Beach and cost 40 ILS for one way. The route to Dead Sea is one the most amazing I have ever seen, you have the desert mountain on one side, Dead Sea and Jordan Valley on the other side.

Bus doesnít stop anywhere once it leaves Jerusalem area as the route takes us through West Bank. There are numerous check posts on the way and no one is allowed to get out of the bus until Ein Gedi. So all the photos had to be taken from the bus itself.

If you want to stay in Ein Gedi, there are many spa available. These are expensive places and are usually on a package for few days.

Ein Gedi Public Beach as the name suggest is a public beach and open to all. This is not a very good beach and has a very steep approach to the water. But all this doesnít matter as you will not be staying for long in the beach. It is not recommended to stay in the water for long. Ein Gedi Spa is a beach resort and there is an entry fee of to you want access to the beach.

There are many precautions to be taken before going to Dead Sea Ė

Men, shave at least 3 day before. Otherwise it will burn like hell
Ladies, wax at least 3 day before. Otherwise same as above
Donít allow water to splash onto your face, especially your eyes. It is very uncomfortable for hours together
Donít gulp the water as it can make you puckish and sick
Make sure you donít have any open wounds or cuts on your body
Take the photos before entering the water and stow away the camera. Even a single drop of water can ruin you cameras
Take one extra pair of cheap flip flop so that you can use it on the beach and throw it away. The beach itself is very rocky and sharp

On the way to Dead Sea
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Directions to Ein Gedi
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This Van is as Dead as the Dead Sea. Its being used to Security Forces
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Dead Sea and Jordan Valley
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Ein Gedi Public Beach
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I was the lone traveler that Day, not a soul around in the road or bus stop
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Ein Gedi Public Beach
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Ein Gedi Public Beach
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Ein Gedi Public Beach
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Opposite to Ein Gedi, Dead Sea Area
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Road to Masada, my next destination
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Dates Farm and Desert in the Distance
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Masada

Masada is an ancient fort in the south of Israel close to Dead Sea. Itís on top of an isolated rock. There is great history behind this place but I will leave it to Wiki for more information on that.

The view from the top of Masada is amazing, other than that I dint find anything interesting. Itís just amazing to see how 2000 years ago man could have achieved so much and the Roman resilience to conquer Masada.

It is around 25 KMS away from Ein Gedi beach and you can take a public bus, shared taxi or hitch hike. The road is much desolated and hardly any traffic. I took for the third option. An elderly gentleman with his daughter dropped me close to Masada and I had to walk for a KM.

You can climb up the Masada or take a cable car all the way up. The cable car cost 72 ILS for round trip and 29 ILS if you are climbing yourself. It was 42 Degree with 73% humidity, so I choose the cable car. Once you reach the top, the view is breathe taking. Itís a 360 degree view and you can see the Dead Sea and Jordan Valley from the top.

It was scorching hot at Masada, but I had to finish my trip by 4 PM so that I could catch the last bus to Jerusalem at 4:30 PM. A bottle of water, sun glasses, suns cream and cap is compulsory if you are visiting Masada during July/August.

View of Masada Rock from the Cable Car
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Mid way through the climb
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View from top, Dead Sea and Jordan in the background
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Dead Sea, Jordan the Road which got me to Masada
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Bus Stand, Masada guest house, small mall, cable car station. The square compound like structure is one of the places where the Roman army was station during the seize of Masada
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The remain of the fort
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Another Roman army camp site, dry river, path to climb and the cable cars in action
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Almost the complete path if you want to climb
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Cables Cars
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Dead Sea and Jordan Valley
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As the day progressed, the view became clearer
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View from South of Masada Rock
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The side from where the Romans built a ramp to Masada Rock
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Model of Masada Rock
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Front part of the rock and stair leading to the lower palace
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Remain of the fort and palace
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Last edited by chandrda : 12th September 2014 at 09:23.
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Old 11th September 2014, 21:39   #5
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More Photos of Masada and Surrounding

Another shot of the remains
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Not sure what this dried up small tree signified. Everyone where taking photo of it, dint want to stand out so followed the herd
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The Pilot Seat of the Bus which took me to Dead Sea and Masada
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Look at all those switch and lighting on the Dashboard
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The Entire Masada Rock
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Restaurant Near Dead Sea
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Jeep and an Army Jeep behind
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Natural open Pits
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Ein Gedi Spa and Reminder where you are
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Dates Farm
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Coming up Next is the Road to Tel Aviv, Tel Aviv City & Beach, Mt Olives and Temple Mount photos

Last edited by chandrda : 12th September 2014 at 09:34.
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Old 12th September 2014, 10:33   #6
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The Road to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem

Every week I used to travel to Tel Aviv from Jerusalem at least once for meeting clients. There are two highways going out of Jerusalem towards Tel Aviv, one which goes next to West Bank and one which goes right into West Bank Area.

My flat was in Ramot which is right next to West Bank. My company driver used to pick me up from my flat go through the highway 443 which goes right into West Bank and rejoin highway 1. The road which passes through west bank is heavily fenced and there is no stopping of cars or getting down. There are various check post and watch towers. You can catch a view of the Ramalla city, which is the capital of West Bank.

Let the photos speak for them selves. All the photos were taken from the car, so the clarity is not very good.

The route to Tel Aviv from my flat. Dotted line is West Bank Area
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Mall close to my flat
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The fence start just a KM away from my flat
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More fence
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Some more fence
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Interesting photo, left side is Israel and on the right is West Bank
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City of Ramalla, West Bank from a distance
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High rise fence wall and watch tower, background is Ramalla city
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Another Photo
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Watch the check post on the left, security is heavy and thorough
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Ramalla city again
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Look at the Wall and the Watch tower
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More Walls
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Watch Tower in a distance
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More watch towers
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The area close the Tel Aviv
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We took the fast last to Tel Aviv
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Directions to toll. Its a interesting concept for the toll collection. If the traffic on the highway (onto the right in photo) is heavy, then toll can go upto 83 ILS. If the traffic is light it comes down to 7 ILS and if there are 4 passenger in the car, then its free.
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Tel Aviv skyline from the highway
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Tel Aviv skyline from the highway
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Tel Aviv skyline from the highway
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Tel Aviv skyline from the highway
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Enter the City
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More high rises
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Direction to bus station
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Very common site in Summer in Israel, the mean the cycles
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Another high rise
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Last edited by chandrda : 12th September 2014 at 10:55.
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Old 12th September 2014, 11:19   #7
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Car Showroom in Tel Aviv.


There is a street called HaMasger Street, nothing special about the street except that all the car showroom are on this road.

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Neighborhood Garage
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Mercedes Benz Showroom
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Bike Garage, a old scooter being rebuilt
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Car Garage, not yet open
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Old 12th September 2014, 14:43   #8
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Thread moved out from the Assembly Line (The "Assembly Line" Forum section) section. Thanks for sharing!
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Old 12th September 2014, 17:10   #9
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Default re: Israel - Living during the Conflict

To be honest, the first time I have seen pics from inside that country. Beautiful as cities in deserts are.

Must resist. Resist posting about politics.

Ah, I did resist.
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Old 12th September 2014, 17:19   #10
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Wow. Interesting travelogue and great pictures. Feels nice to read about a place not visited frequently. Interesting toll collection concept too. Specially the 'free if 4 passengers' rule.
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Old 12th September 2014, 17:22   #11
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I could not believe the roads were so good. The city is as clean as any other western country.
Excellent Pictures! thanks for the treat. This is for sure one the rare kind of travelogues that we come across in our forum.

A kind request: :-) if possible, post more information about the other places that you might have visited namely, way of the cross, David's Tomb etc..

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Old 12th September 2014, 17:27   #12
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You brought back memories of my visit to Tel Aviv, back in 2008. I wasn't carrying a camera then.

The high-fencing around the west bank and the mixed emotions as you glimpse Ramallah for the first time. The blue waters of the Mediterranean, the very vibrant nightlife of Tel Aviv, the absolutely incredible hummus, schwarma and falafel and incredible Jerusalem. Thanks for bringing back the memories !
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Old 12th September 2014, 17:39   #13
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Hello,

Very interesting travelogue. It is great to see that the country which is so much in news for ongoing war, is almost at peace within.

Did you experience any scary situations? I mean the siren went on and you had to follow a local person to safe place?

How was it during heavy fighting sepacially during nights? Did the business went as usual during days of heavy fighting?

We regularly see images of destruction on West Bank side, but what about loss of property on Isreal side?

Thanks,
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Old 12th September 2014, 17:48   #14
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It looks so different. They dont seem have aped the western world in architecture, planning etc. Guess very efficient in their own way without big spaces.
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Old 12th September 2014, 17:57   #15
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Thanks for this post. Cobblestone paths like in Europe on the one side and deserts on the other, flavor of all religions, warfare, good roads: convergence at its peak!
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