Utopia Park at Kibbutz Bahan and a visit to Corinne’s Gan…

Utopia Park at Kibbutz Bahan…

Utopia Park is a unique botanical-ecological garden which includes a spectacular and expansive outdoor area filled with mazes, a topiary, a musical fountain and more. The indoor garden contains a large collection of orchids, waterfalls, and wildlife from the kibbutz.

Eileen makes a friend…

At the entrance way to the garden we found this beautiful parrot. Eileen and the parrot became immediate friends.

Occupied territory…

After our visit to Utopia Park we drove to the Israeli border. In the distance we can see the city of Tul Karem in the occupied territory…

and the wall that separates the territory with Israel…


Eileen wanted to take me to a traditional middle eastern restaurant for lunch. We ate in the restaurant Achla in the city of Cfar Saba. Little did I know what I was in for. Before our fannys hit the chair we were served with this sumptuous table of appetizers.

and we followed this up with shishlik. Eileen had lamb and I had chicken.

The Gan

Gan is the hebrew word for nursery school. Corinne works at a gan and we went there to meet Eileen’s grandsons Kai and Lahav

and her daughter-in-law Penny

who are visiting from Washington.


Penny and the boys are returning to the states on Thursday. The ladies gathered for one last (and probably only) photo of the three together.



I find it amazing. walking among the ruins of Caesarea, dating back to 582 BC, that the Israeli military was still busy blowing up abandoned mines (in the Mediterranean) that had washed on or near the shore of this historic site. The mines are remnants of the days when Great Britain occupied this area until Israel’s independence on May 14, 1948. We walk among the ruins and destruction dating back centuries and still deal with recent history as well.

Entering the city…

To enter Caesarea National Park we crossed over  the moat that surrounded the Crusader Wall of the city.  then through a gatehouse with gothic vaulting,

that contains, what we think, was a place they either made wine or oil.

Emerging from the gatehouse, we found ourselves in the large fortified town, which covered a small part of the great Herodian/Roman city.


Those of you who have been following my blog know that the next place we had to visit was one of the restaurants located on the site.

For lunch, I once again had shakshuka with Turkish coffee… and Eileen had a salad with tuna.

The Roman Theater…

After lunch we headed over to the The Roman Theater, capable of seating 5,000 spectators, it was constructed in the time of Jesus and Pontius Pilate, and has been restored. Concerts and other performances are still frequently held here.

The Herodian Amphitheatre…

The ampitheatre, built by Herod, was used for sporting events including chariot racing. It held seats for about 10,000 spectators. The view of the Mediterranean from the seating area where I shot this image, would not have been visible, as 12 rows of seats would have stretched for about 250 yards obstructing the view.

The Port of Sebastos…

Very little of the harbor remains. The man made jetty, which extends out into the sea, was off limits on the day we visted because Israeli soldiers were busy detonating old mines and grenades that had washed up or came close to the shoreline.

The Aqueduct

Located about 5 miles north of the old city is the aqueduct. It was almost 9km (6 miles) in length, though most of it has been buried by shifting sands. It carried fresh water into the city.  Here is a view of the aqueduct at sunset.

Christmas Day (Shabbat) at the marina in Tel Aviv


On Saturday we met Eileen’s friend Civil at the marina in Tel Aviv. Civil is a nurse who worked with Eileen. She is of German origin and settled in Israel after marrying and Israeli. Sound familiar?


Of course we had to find a place to eat. I had smoked salmon (aka lox).

Israeli meals, especially breakfast/lunch, are huge. They come with Israeli salad, breads, etc.. Of course, this brunch also came with champagne.

I was very surprised at how crowded the marina/boardwalk was. Civil explained that because most Israeli’s live in apartments, on Saturday, which is their only day off, people like to be outside. With the weather so exceptionally beautiful, the marina is a natural drawing place. Lots of families with lots of kids. The street people of course catered to the kids.

The fun continued down the boardwalk where people were having fun doing Israeli folk dances…

and playing “motkot’

On the way home we passed what I believe is the ugliest building in Tel Aviv…



Yaffo or Jaffa is one of the oldest port cities on the Mediterranean. Jaffa has been built upon a high cliff at the foot of which lies the port defended by protruding rocks. Today, Jaffa is part of the city of Tel Aviv.

Our visit there began at the flea market where anything and everything is for sale.

…and everyone is selling something.

Of course you can’t go to the Jaffa without lunch at Dr. Shakshuka’s. It was delicious. Almost as good as the one Eileen makes for me back on Long Island.

We spent the rest of the day wandering around the old city taking in the sights, checking out the flea market, and shooting old/delapidated/decrepid buildings.

Eileen, on the other hand was also busy improving her photography skills. She even hooked up with a local photographer. At least that is what she told me!

Yaffa, a great place to visit. Can’t wait to go back. I hear it’s even better at night!

Wednesday on the beach with Lahav…

Eileen’s grandson Lahav slept over at the house on Wednesday evening and then spent the next day with us. We took a ride to Apolonnia, a crusader city and fortress overlooking the Mediterranean Sea.

Lahav and Eileen seemed to be having a good time on the beach.

Just south of Apolonnia is the Sidna Ali Mosque. It has served as a place of worship for Muslims since the 11th century. In the courtyard is a shrine of Ali Ibn Ali, a holy man and sultan, thought to be a descendant of Mohammed.

After our walk on the beach we headed for lunch at Park Raanana. It’s a tough life we live, but someone’s got to do it.

This is a very special time of the year for everyone. We are very lucky that we are able to spend it together here in Israel. We wish everyone a wonderful holiday and a Happy & Healthy New Year.


Tel Aphek- Antipatris

A new day dawns and we’ve decided it’s time to get into the car and do some shooting and sightseeing. Eileen suggested that a good first place to visit would be Tel Aphek-Antipatris. I wanted to go to Jerusalem on my first visit outside of Herzlia, but Eileen felt we should wait because the city may be overcrowded with Christian pilgrims here for Christmas. Parking is difficult on a good day so she felt it would be even worse now.

On the way to Antipatris we stopped for breakfast in Raanana.  Bagels were actually very good. I thought bagels were always ‘holy’. It’s the bialy I worry about. 


Antipatris is about a 30 minute ride from Raanana. Located on the outskirts of Petah Takva, Aphek was among the earliest fortified Canaanite cities.

This is the place where the Israelite’s suffered one of the most devastating defeats, the loss of the Ark of the Covenant, to the Philistines. No, we did not see Indiana Jones lurking in the area.

When entering the grounds, we can see the remnant of the Ottoman fortress, Binar Bashi, which was built in 1571.

As luck would have it there were several abandoned buildings on the site where trespassing was prohibited.

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We were not sure what this building was used for. Certainly built in the 20th century, but it did offer an opportunity for some real nice images, IMHO!

Herzlia, Israel…Days 1-3

We arrived Sunday afternoon. The flight was fine, I guess because I slept most of the way. It’s taken longer than I had anticipated to adjust to the time change (7 hours) but we’re feeling better and starting to do some traveling and sightseeing.

I finally got the chance to meet Eileen’s youngest daughter, Corinne. She’s is very nice and, as was I, were thrilled to finally meet each other.

On Sunday evening we took a walk around part of Herzlia. No nightlife to speak of. A few food kiosks were open but not much else. No real restaurants in the area.

Spent Tuesday at Acadia Beach Had lunch on the beach


and watched sunset at the Marina.

Weather here is perfect about 72 degrees and sunny each day. Nights are cool.

They are doing major renovations/building in the beach area.

They were nice enough to leave an abandoned restaurant for me to explore.

Tomorrow (Wednesday)  we head to Antipatris and in the afternoon to get Eileen’s grandsons Lahav and Kai.