Tag Archives: israel

Masada – from up in the sky and down on the ground.

The Masada fortress – oh my Great Herod! What a checkered history. The uprising of the Jews against the Romans. The seizing of Jerusalem, the remains of the rebels locked inside the walls of the fortification on the flat top of this inaccessible mountain with vertical cliff faces all around it.

A siege of three (3!) years. The Romans constructed a ramp and eventually entered the fortress – but so as not to end up as prisoners, slaves – or dead – the defenders of the fortress (around a thousand inhabitants, including women and children) committed mass suicide. A ghastly tale – from the first century BC.

I’d already been to Masada. I didn’t write all that much about the place back then, but I do recall plenty of emotions during my visit. Places like this need returning to – so I returned…

Read on…

Rain – in the desert.

Ladies and gents, boys and girls!

If you wake up one morning in a hotel room and open the drapes to see this here scene – don’t rush with the cheerfulness. Appearances can be deceiving…

So, what’s not right in that pic? First: the beach – it’s empty, as in – no folks. Second: not a single human head to be seen bobbing about on that there sea. Third: those palms are looking more than a little distressed with their leaves flapping about frantically in the wind.

So yes, this is not a day for the beach. But not to worry – that means it’s a day… for a helicopter excursion!

Read on

Flickr photostream

Instagram photostream

Crusader city ruins + another quiz-question.

Have you ever been inside a genuine fortress built by actual Crusaders? I hadn’t – and I’ve been to so many different interesting historical places in the world I’ve lost count. But finally, recently, I did it: my first crusader castle visit!

Here we are – a fortress built on a high, small patch of land jutting out into the sea that’s surrounded practically on all sides by steep slopes, and down below in the sea are the ruins of former piers and docks.

Read on…

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog

Herod the Great’s Great Palace.

Hi folks!

There are some places on the planet that need to be checked out purely for simple touristic pleasure – but which also highlight one’s scandalously scant level of knowledge of important historical events. One such place I visited last week. And if you’re ever in Israel, don’t be lazy to get there.

Absolutely recommended, especially if you’re near Jerusalem.

This is one of Herod the Great‘s palaces: Herodium, or, at least the ruins thereof.

The life, adventures and exploits of King Herod could only really be found out about if one were to travel back to the decades before Christ in a time machine. The folklore that’s been handed down through the ages may be based on any number of sources, and they can hardly be checked for accuracy 2000 years later now can they? Even the mighty internet has its limitations!

Read on: An underground fortress built ‘into’ a hill…

Worldwide Swimming – Pt 2.

Oakie-doakie. On we march front-crawl, to the next stop on the worldwide swimming bus – Europe.

6. Hot Sea, Santorini.

Santorini is a volcano-island, or island-volcano. It’s actually a ring of islands, which are the remains of the caldera of a huge volcano of yester-millennia, with a fresh volcano growing up inside the ring in the middle, which every now and then erupts and grows bigger. I was on Santorini not long ago, and wrote plenty of words about it here on this blog.


The only hot springs in the world that are situated in the sea reside here. At least, the only ones in the world known to me. The hot water spurts up from the seabed through the sea, making said sea the warmest sea you’ll ever know :).


There are quite a few spots around the islands where you can partake in hot-spring-sea-bathing. The one in the above pic isn’t the best; others are deeper and hotter, I’m told…

Read on: summer holidays on the White Sea islands…

Pre-Passover Knesset Quasi-Tour.

Another week, another avia-triangle; this time: Moscow – LondonJerusalem – Moscow. As per – as per: conference, speech, meetings with partners and customers. It was all work, work, work… but for one smidgen of tourism: a visit to the Knesset.


The Knesset, folks, is Israel’s parliament – probably one of the most active, heterogeneous, scandal-ridden parliaments on the planet. 120 members of the most varied political stances and religions and degrees of tolerance and liberality; to some, the world’s most unabashed political reality show: a heady brew of the mosaic, much like Israeli society as a whole… but that’s another story – and one widely covered on the Internet. Here though, I’ll try to retell a few stories and incidents that have occurred here, as told me by folks who saw them happen. But more about that later…

Alas, we didn’t catch any live action of an actual session while here as we were in town on a non-working day. In fact we didn’t even get to see inside the Plenum Hall, as everyone was preparing for the upcoming Passover festival. Practically everything was closed for cleaning and polishing so that everything was sparkling for the important Jewish commemoration. Even the bar in the hotel closed at 9pm!

Read on: canteen, committees and… balls…

Cheese & Pivo – in Tel Avivo.

All business done down in Israel; now for some R&R: a leisurely springtime stroll around a sunny Tel Aviv.


Spring’s the best time of the year in these parts, IMHO. Summer here is just oppressive – hugely hot and horrendously humid – forever reminding me of Bulgakov’s words: More than three hours had gone by since the procession had reached the hill, and although the sun over Mount Golgotha had already begun its descent, the heat was still unbearable.” Ok, he was referring to Jerusalem, but that’s only 50 kilometers away. But I digress…

Read on: Walking along the shoreline…

My Gabon–Israel–France–Monaco Grand Prix.

Haven’t been posting here for a while. The reason being that last week turned out to be horrendously hectic – without a single minute to spare for putting fingers to keyboard. Now for a bit of catch-up…

From last Monday to Saturday I managed to visit four countries on three continents: Gabon, Israel, France and Monaco. To do so six flights were necessary – on average one per day. Now, I’m no stranger to tight-schedulism, but last week was just daft: such all-out non-stopism is just too much for the body and soul. It took me the whole of the weekend after to get back to normal again.

All the same, though there wasn’t time for writing – there’s always time for snapping. Herewith, then, a quick photo-textual report of my very own international Grand Prix last week, split up into the four respective ‘laps’…


Read on: First stop – Gabon…

Underground Jerusalem

I have read and heard a lot about the about the excavations in Jerusalem, around the Holy Temple and under its walls. I have seen the pictures, licked my lips in anticipation but I only managed to visit the ruins of the city and one of the newly discovered tunnels (not the main one though) that runs under the Western Wall.

Then all of a sudden – a surprise!

Down the stairs, under the ground, from level to level, from floor to floor. How many of them have not been excavated yet?? Along the Roman cobbles, under the 700-year-old Turkish renovations, along the ancient walls of the Temple. Wow! I never even dreamed of it – but it really happened!

Underground Jerusalem

What is hoary antiquity for New York, is just last night for Jerusalem…

Tel Aviving the time.

My fall season globetrotting continues from country to country, city to city… What’s nice about it this year is that the weather just about everywhere is real good. My autumn coat hasn’t left the corner of my suitcase once yet.

Alas, the itinerary – as always – has been very intense – an intenserary! – and some of the ports of call have been decidedly un-resort-like, so dipping into some nice warm sea sadly hasn’t worked out. Until today! For here I am on the beach of Tel Aviv. Hurray! After the very tense official part of my visit to Israel I finally got to the shores of the Med for some serious chilling. Phew.

Beach time in Tel Aviv

But my beaching it in the Middle East is hardly worthy of a blog post in itself. However, while vegging out, I noticed in the corner of my eye a digital display on the side of the lifeguards’ tower. It took it in turns to show the time of day and the current temperature, much like similar digital displays the world over. But this one was a little different…

Read on: a brainteaser with digital clocks…