Tag Archives: israel

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.

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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 :).

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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.

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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.

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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’…

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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…

Jerusalem Formula-1.

Shalom folks!

Last week I found myself in Israel, where a big fuss was being made over an event we were taking active part in: the Jerusalem Formula – Peace Road Show. In LOUD attendance were Scuderia Ferrari and Marussia F-1 racing cars, and also GT Ferrari Challenge, Le Mans prototype and DTM Audi cars. What a din that lot made!

Around 120,000 motorsport fans turned up to see the spectacle over two days. I imagine the labyrinth of streets in the Old City had mostly emptied while the racing was going on… but I didn’t see that so can’t confirm. This is what I saw:

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More: the coolest ever opening of a new KL office…

A Very Old City.

Jerusalem, the Living City, is older than almost all others that have survived to the present day, older even than Rome, and a couple of millennia older than some of the world’s oldest cities. Only a few others can boast of such a history… the likes of Jericho, Babylon and Yerevan, for instance. But it’s surely true to say that Jerusalem is the oldest among the “big ticket” world cities, and as such it’s one of those places you have to explore at least once in this life. And it’s not just a place for strolling the streets – it’s worth descending underground, since the caves are now open for visitors. I was there recently – these are old sewage tunnels which were discovered not so long ago, enmeshing the whole city like a web. They are more than 2,000 years old!

Jerusalem Tunnels

More: Exploring the history …

The Masada Fortress.

Finally, after years of dreaming, I got the chance to visit!

Masada is the name of a ruined ancient fortress on the top of a 450 m mountain on the Israeli shore of the Dead Sea. It is notorious for a legend of the mass suicide of a thousand of Jews hiding there from Roman troops. After the Jewish revolt against Rome (1st century AD), was suppressed and Jerusalem fell into Roman hands, a group of surviving rebels settled in the fortress together with their families. The Romans besieged Masada but failed to capture it protected by forbidding vertical cliffs. Besides, the food and water supply seemed set to last for years. In the end, the Romans made a huge embankment in the lowest part of those fortifying cliffs, rolled in a battering ram and broke through a wall. Having realized the hopelessness of the situation, the besieged Jews chose death instead of slavery.

According to legend, a dozen warriors were selected and charged with slaughtering the others – including women and children – before destroyed food supplies and burning down the wooden buildings. Amid the carnage, they drew lots and one was left to stab his comrades in arms and, finally, himself (thereby committing a great sin). That’s how the story goes, and the evidence suggests it’s true. At least the remains of the fortress and embankment remain to the present day, adding weight to the story. Archeologists have even found earthen bowls with names – maybe these were the very vessels used to choose which warrior would be left to slay his comrades and finally himself. For the rest of the story see here.

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More: A legend or a history? …