“Guys, guess what? We are going to Israel! Yes, you heard it right, Israel!” Those were my mother’s first words at the beginning of February of 2011, and she would not stop repeating them. When I first heard Israel, I thought I misunderstood my mom and that she was going crazy, but I was so wrong! This adventurous trip all started when my aunt and my mom got together and came up with the idea of visiting the Holy Land in order to see where Jesus was born, before any war outbreaks occurred in the Middle East.
In the middle of winter, any other normal families would take a vacation down south to the Caribbean, but no, not my family. Instead, my family goes to Israel. So, by the time you know it, the middle of February arrives, and me, my sister, my brother, my mom, my aunt, my uncle, their daughter-in-law, and the daughter-in-laws mother are sitting on the ten hour long, Air Canada plane ride to Tel Aviv, Israel. As soon as the plane landed and arrived at the gate, all eight of us were up and moving, excited for our adventure. Throughout the week, we traveled with C.N. Tours; however, we had a private bus driver and a tour guide as these were friends of my mom’s Israeli friends from work.
Straight from the airport, we visited Old Caesarea and the Mediterranean Sea, followed by the old city of Haifa, where we visited a Catholic Church which is believed to house God’s spirit, and then we had dinner at a local Israeli restaurant. Afterward, we boarded the bus and were off to Nazareth. Once in Nazareth, we visited the Catholic Church which was built around a Mother Mary’s home. After walking around Nazareth, we finally check into the hotel, where we all relaxed before going out with the driver for falafels. A falafel is a patty which consists of chickpeas and an assortment of toppings, and my brother and I just kept on gulping these down.
Our second day in Israel was crazy. On this day, we visited the city of Cana, where Jesus performed his first miracle, and then we went on a boat cruise on the Sea of Galilee, where we blasted out and danced to the Polish anthem and folk music. Flowingly, we visited the Church of Apostle Peter, the White Synagogue, the Jordan River and the Mount of Temptation. It was a busy day; however it was memorable and a blast.
I would highly recommend, and return to the Dead Sea. We went there our third day, and all you do is float in the water and put mud from the sea on your skin, and it exfoliates and cleans your skin since the water contains high levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium and sodium salts. And when Israel, you need to ride a camel to get the full experience; scary, but fun.
Our last few days in Israel, we went to the Masada, which was a castle built for King Herod, visited Jerusalem where we went to the Church of Agony and went through the stations of the cross, and finally we went to Bethlehem. In Bethlehem, we went to the Church of Nativity, which is built around the manger where Jesus was born, and had the opportunity to experience shisha, which is flavored tobacco.
In the end, Israel was one of the best family experiences ever. I learned a lot about the Israeli customs and culture, and learned more about the Catholic history. I also learnt not to expect everything to go as planned because, when traveling with a group, things will change and you have to be spontaneous and live in the moment. I love my family, and would recommend this trip to bring one closer to your religion and family.
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