Guests Jan and Dick Yetke set sail on Prinsendam’s 64-day Grand Mediterranean Voyage in March, and we’ll catch up as quickly as possible. Enjoy the journey with Jan and Dick!
Here we are at our first stop in Israel. We have been here before, but chose a different tour this time. We did: “Jaffa on Foot and Tel Aviv Highlights.” The photo of all the cars sitting on the pier (and there were hundreds of them) was interesting. We inquired why they were there. We were told that it is cheaper for the shippers to offload them from a ship at this port, and truck them down to Eilat port in southern Israel, and load them back on a ship for their continued journey to the east, rather than going through the Suez Canal. We found that amazing!
We left the pier and drove north towards Jaffa. When we reached the old city, we began our walking tour of Old Jaffa – the ancient (and once the only) entry port to the land of Israel. Jaffa is a microcosm encircled by the modern city of Tel Aviv, but its character remains intact and it is perfectly preserved as a result of a massive and detailed restoration project that took place in the 1960s.
We wandered among old stone buildings and arches, and narrow, windy cobblestone alleys filled with artists’ galleries. We viewed Andromeda’s Rock in the distance. This is where the prophet Jonah boarded the ship for Tarshish, St. Peter stayed in the house of Simon the Tanner and Andromeda, the daughter of Jaffa’s king, was tied to a rock, awaiting the sea monster. It was a very interesting old city. The guide pointed out the new city of Tel Aviv in the distance (and next door to the old city) where previously were only sand dunes! It’s amazing to see that a whole new city has been built there in the last 60-plus years.
We then did a driving tour of modern Tel Aviv. Rothschild Boulevard is known for its 1930s Bauhaus buildings and the extraordinary balconies that lend Tel Aviv its White City nickname and its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. We then went to the Tel Aviv Sea Promenade, which has a very nice boardwalk. They are building this into the new seaside port area of Tel Aviv and it will be beautiful when finished. There is also the river that goes in from there and there are paths all along the river. It was an enjoyable tour!
Some history: Two-thousand years ago, Ashdod was the capital of the great trading empire of the Philistines. Today, it remains one of Israel’s key commercial ports. Nearly four miles of pristine beaches and lovely palm-tree-lined boulevards. One can stroll to the end of Shavei Tzion Street to enjoy a walk along the boardwalk or make their way to Rogozin Street to find a myriad of shops, restaurants and cafes. Tel Aviv and the ancient spiritual center of Jerusalem represent two distinct sides of Israel’s personality. Tel Aviv is modern, secular, commercial, dressed in high fashion, known for its trendy night clubs and cafe-lined avenues where literati exuberantly discuss the issues of the day deep into the night. Jerusalem is the touchstone of a deep spiritual tradition at the core of three of the world’s major religions. Jerusalem was first a small Jebusite settlement on Mt. Moriah where, according to the Old Testament, Abraham offered his son Isaac as a sacrifice. Almost since its inception, Jerusalem has been the object of much conflict for its spiritual and political importance. Rulers have come and gone and each has left their indelible mark on the city. Today the Old City is home to the Wailing Wall holy to Jews, the Christian Church of the Holy Sepulcher commemorating the crucifixion of Jesus and the Haram Ash-Sharif or “Dome of the Rock,” the third holiest site in Islam.