My family and I spent a couple of wonderful weeks in Israel and Germany in June. Seeing these two countries on the same trip was definitely interesting. The Israel trip was organized by Liberty Christian. Our flight had a layover in Germany so we decided to spend a week in Germany on our way back.
Matthew almost didn’t get to go on the trip. When we landed in Israel and got ready to exit the airport, Matthew realized that he had lost his passport. Fortunately, the airline found it on the plane before it departed for its next flight. They called us and let us know they had found it. We waited over 30 minutes for them to bring his passport to him. Our tour guide got tired of waiting and decided to check into it. It turned out they had taken his passport into Lost and Found, and we could not get there until after going through customs. If the guide had not gotten involved, we might still be waiting there!
The trip to Israel was amazing. We really enjoyed getting to see the Biblical sites in person. Our guide had us on a tight schedule and we were on the move from seven in the morning to eight at night almost every day. We walked over a mile a day and as our guide pointed out, everything in Israel is either uphill or downhill! I sprained my ankle two weeks before we left. Fortunately, it healed enough to allow me to walk with a brace. Otherwise, I would have been able to see only what can be seen from the bus windows. Most of the roads are cobblestone and the paths are difficult to walk.
We saw several very impressive sites in Israel. We were able to see Bethlehem, which is controlled by the Palestinians, the West Bank and the Temple Mount. I think if we had been there the next week these sites would have been closed, because on the day we left there was a shooting in Tel Aviv.
We even went to the Israel/Syrian border and looked into Syria from the hillside (the fighting is on the other end of Syria). It was amazing to see how important the Golan Heights are to each side. The hills give the country that has them the ability to look and shoot for miles into the other country. If I had been told we were going to the Syrian border before we left, I don’t think I would have signed up for that excursion. There were several large mine fields in that area with warning signs. Our timing was good, though.
The Roman ruins were amazing. It was interesting to learn how the Romans laid out their cities the same way every time, which makes it easy for the archeologists to find things. The sites were very well preserved. One of the most impressive ones we saw was the Canaanite gate (approximately 4000 years old) and Masada, a fortified place that Herod the Great built for himself around 35 BC on an isolated rock plateau. Fortunately, there was a tram up to the top of Masada. It was hot and strenuous enough walking around the top. Climbing it would have been extremely difficult and actually impossible for me.
After 8 days of non-stop touring, we headed to Germany and started a slower paced vacation. We started with the Porsche and Mercedes Benz museums. Both museums had information on the history of Germany as well as the cars. It was interesting driving down the highways in Germany, because Porsches and Mercedes Benzes are the common cars. It was unusual to see a Ford over there. We saw 3 amazing castles—Lichtenstein Castle, Hohenzollern Castle and Neuschwanstein castle. The first two tours were entirely in German. The guides pointed and we just assumed the objects were very old and important. The third tour was in English. The Neuschwanstein castle is the one that they based the Disneyland castle on.
We took a short side trip into Austria, a country that was on my bucket list. I had seen Switzerland and several people told me that Austria was even more beautiful. They weren’t lying. Austria was really beautiful. Perhaps we will see more of it on another awesome trip!