I really hate the phrase "photo dump" but I guess that's what I'm doing today. Many people have asked to see more pictures from my trip and you know I'm happy to oblige :) Here are some more of my favorites!
The very first photo I took on the trip. We landed in Israel and drove straight to Jerusalem - this is from a tower overlooking the city. The sun was setting and it was cold and clear and absolutely gorgeous.
Posing with my beloved co-staff, Hananel! Hananel is Israeli but lives in New York and is an singer/performer - suffice it to say we had a LOT of fun with the bus microphone :)
Also got to spend some quality time with my favorite Israeli family :) As I mentioned yesterday, Shachar was the tour guide for this trip - he and I have worked together 3 times now and there is a hardcore love fest going on. He is brilliant, kind, and knows everything about everything - I always say I'd follow him anywhere as long as there was a working bathroom! :) His adorable family joined us over Shabbat - his wife, Lee, and his daughters Maayan and baby Stav. I love them!
Speaking of Shabbat, how cool is this? 10 of the participants from our group had never had a bar or bat mitzvah, so we gave them one while standing in a little clearing overlooking the Kotel (Western Wall) at sundown on Shabbat. It was very special.
A group of Israeli soldiers joined us for 5 of the 10 days so that Americans/Israelis could get to know one another. They were wonderful and added so much to the trip - we loved them! Here they are before our group toured Har Herzl, Israel's military cemetery:
Hananel and Shachar hopped off the bus in the middle of nowhere to pick sabra fruit from a bush on the side of the highway so everyone on the bus could taste it.
HELL YES I did some shopping! The shuk (market) in Jerusalem is awesome and I picked up some fantastic things there, including several of these gorgeous colorful little bowls...
...and FINALLY got myself a little "Shalom Ya'll" sign!
We spent the night at a Bedouin tent - ugh - and made a big bonfire to keep us warm. Hananel and I bought chocolate and marshmallows so everyone could roast them over the fire.
I might not have loved the Bedouin tent but I did get to ride a camel again! I had forgotten how much it hurts, though. My poor thighs!
Another amazing part of the trip was getting to see some of my friends who live in Israel. While in Jerusalem, I met up with Aaren and Diane, who took me to an adorable dairy restaurant. We ate sufganyot for Hanukkah and I got to meet their friends - it was so good seeing them! (Hi Aaren, I love that you read this blog!!!)
And in Tel Aviv, my friend Elana came and met me for lunch! She took me to a great place in Shuk Hacarmel and it was fantastic seeing her (and I LOVED the restaurant!)
And on our last night, I was lucky enough to be able to meet up with my friend Amir - the guard/medic from my last trip! We couldn't believe it had been two and a half years since we saw each other. Time seriously flies.
Gorgeous street art in Jaffa:
What a fantastic group!!!
This graffiti written in Hebrew says "I LOVE YOU." And I do, Israel, I LOVE YOU!