On our last day in Jerusalem, we started off with a few goodbyes.
Soren said farewell to his Israeli cot. Baby spent about half his sleeping hours in his own bed and half in ours. We’ve dabbled in co-sleeping since he was born, but it was extra fun in Israel since each of the places we stayed had king beds.
Goodbye to our Ben Yehuda apartment.
We entered Damascus Gate one last time.
One last meal at Abu Shukri. Soren always dives in before we take the pictures.
Hummus with meat, anyone?
I had been craving pomegranate juice after seeing every juice stand advertising it. When we finally stopped to buy, we were informed that it wasn’t actually pomegranate season, so this particular juice shop wouldn’t sell it. Instead, we went with a delightful lemon/mint beverage. Soren settled for a smoothie pouch when we wouldn’t share our juice.
Leaving the Old City.
Next we made our way to the Garden Tomb. Out of all the sites we visited in the Holy City, this was the only one that felt at all holy. It was peaceful and beautiful and maybe it really is the place.
At the place of the skull — Golgotha.
The tomb — hewn out of a rock.
He’s clearly pondering some deep thoughts.
I feel a teensy bit sad that he won’t remember any of this. I guess we’ll have to just keep taking more trips until he does.
A quick cab ride brought us to the BYU Jerusalem Center on Mount Scopus.
I dream of pomegranate trees in my yard.
Tim and Soren pretended to make olive oil. I wish I could’ve done the BYU Jerusalem study abroad, if only to make my own olive oil
What a view.
We walked through a less savory part of town to get to the Garden of Gethsemane. I’m choosing to believe this is not the true site where Jesus and his disciples prayed. It just wasn’t what I’ve always pictured.
I expected the Garden to look a little more… rustic. And forest-like. Instead it was well manicured and tiny and you could only walk around the perimeter (the Garden was fenced in).
This is East Jerusalem.
And then we raced home to pack our things, jump in a taxi, and head to the train station. Next stop: Tel Aviv.
Roadside sites in Jerusalem on our way to the train station. Tim said he wants to live there.
Tim’s conference organizers arranged a room for us at the Tel Aviv Crowne Plaza, which was right on the beach. Like, the beach was literally two steps from the hotel’s back entrance. The accommodations were excellent, but having three adults and a baby in one hotel room is a little tricky. Especially when the baby sleeps in the bathroom, so the bathroom is off limits for much of the night.
Soren knows he’s the king of our bed. Also, why is hotel artwork always crooked?
The hotel had a lavish Israeli breakfast buffet for select residents (that’s us, obviously). We dined on fancy cheeses, eggs, pastries, fish, fruits and vegetables, yogurt, hummus, and more. Things were just easier if we left Soren behind (with my mom), but we made sure to sneak food for him from the buffet. Our bed became his dining room, and he saw no reason to avoid messes.
For our first Tel Aviv outing, we took a long walk to Old Jaffa.
Tel Aviv felt mostly like any European city. Those palm trees give it a coastal vibe, even when you’re not next to the ocean.
Lots of odd architecture in the city.
Loved this one.
These strange outdoor “gyms” were all along the beach.
Our destination was HaTachana, which is an old railway station that’s been converted into an outdoor shopping area with high-end boutiques and restaurants. But my favorite shop was just down the street from the train station.
You know how sometimes you go into a store and you feel like everything about it fits you perfectly? Like you could decorate your house using only items from that store? This was it for me. Soren posed for a few pictures.
Fun with Grandmama’s hat.
We walked through Carmel Market on the way back to our hotel. It was mostly creative junk.
And then it was time for our first dip in the Mediterranean. And Soren’s first ocean swim ever!
First he wanted to pose in his beach gear.
Totally loving it.
He wasn’t exactly sold on the whole ocean thing. He didn’t hate it, but he wasn’t dying to hang around.
Still pretty wary.
We didn’t see much of Tim all day, and at night he had a dinner and tour to attend. So Shauna and I took a cab back to Jaffa to dine at Dr. Shakshuka.
A co-worker had recommended this place to me, and it did not disappoint.
Loved the zillions of pots hanging from the ceiling.
This, my friends, is shakshuka. It’s a North African dish, and it sounds totally strange — eggs poached in a spicy tomato sauce. But it is absolutely divine. I can’t figure out why it doesn’t appear much on US menus.
Soren thinks every meal should be eaten at a restaurant.
On day two in Tel Aviv, we headed to Jaffa again. This time our destination was the Jaffa flea market.
I could walk for hours, as long as it’s next to a beach.
The market was fun, but I forgot that going to flea markets in other countries is partly sad because you can’t buy much. Why is it so easy to find perfect furniture pieces when you can’t take them home with you?
But we did buy juice. Always juice. And Soren learned to use a straw! Grandmama taught him how, and as we walked around Soren would pull out his pacifier every now and again and stare Grandmama down until she would give him another sip. He’s used to his demands being met.
During our walk home, our nice, quiet beach was overtaken by Tel Aviv’s 20th Annual Gay Pride Festival, with more than 100,000 people in attendance. We made it a pool day. Lucky for us, the hotel pool overlooks the beach, so we didn’t have to miss any of the action.
That evening Tim and I had an amazing dinner with his conference goers in a hip part of the city. I had been in a major panic about whether I should go, because I wasn’t sure what Soren’s schedule was going to be like. He’d been going to bed late — 9 p.m.-ish most nights. I put him down for a nap at 6 and decided, at my mother’s persistence, to join the dinner. I was a bundle of nerves the whole time. I was certain he’d wake up from his nap and be a total mess without his mama. As it turned out, he thought he was in bed for the night, and he never made a peep. Success.
The next morning, Soren said good riddance to his bathroom/bedroom.
I’m baffled about the razor that is definitely within Soren’s reach. I made sure to keep it away from the crib. But I guess we have photo evidence that I’m a terrible mother.
We spent one last hour on the beach, then left the Crowne Plaza to head North for our last few days of the trip.
Tagged: Abu Shukri, Ben Yehuda, BYU Jerusalem Center, Carmel Market, Crowne Plaza, Damascus Gate, Dr. Shakshuka, falafel, Garden of Gethsemane, Garden Tomb, gay pride festival, HaTachana, Holy City, hummus, Jaffa, Jaffa flea market, Jerusalem, Mediterranean Sea, Old City, Tel Aviv