Israel: Travel Diary - Day One

Tel Aviv, Israel
Last updated 
April 10, 2020 
by Ashley Ellefsen

The following is an account from my personal travel diary of the trip I took with my mother to Israel last year (2019). We spent 9 days traveling the entire country, which is about the same size as the state of New Jersey. From morning to night our days were filled with the ripe culture, exotic food, breathtaking landscapes and unparalleled history.

Completely exhausted yet exhilarated. It's the only way I can explain the feeling of a long anticipated adventure finally coming to fruition after 32 hours of travel.

Las Vegas to Denver to Frankfurt and finally to Tel Aviv. The day seemed like it would never end. We landed after dark in Israel, arriving on the Sabbath. A day where most of the country shuts down. The customs lines were long, filled with excited people from all over the world coming to visit this Holy Land.

I was ready! Ready and excited to experience the rich culture of Israel....taking in the sights, smells and tastes of this beautiful country. What I was not prepared for was the heaviness. There's a different kind of preparation that goes beyond the packing and planning for a trip here, that I was not anticipating. My mind and heart have already been challenged! It feels...well, complicated. Maybe too complex to properly communicate here but suffice it to say the incredible history, rich culture and many promises of this land have already far exceeded my expectations.

Day 1 Begins.

We began the day at the Port City of Jaffa. Known in the Bible as Joppa and is considered the world's oldest port and the place where the prophet Jonah set sail for Tarshish. In Jaffa we visited the House of Simon the Tanner; where Peter raised Tabitha from the dead and saw his famous vision in which he was commanded to eat animals regarded as unclean in Jewish tradition (helloooooo bacon 🥓 ). This home is the place where Peter interpreted his vision as divine permission to forgo the Jewish commandments and to preach Christianity to Jews and pagans alike.

Next we traveled via the Sharon plain to Caesarea, the seat of the Roman Procurator of Judea at the time of the Christ. This fortified harbor city was built 2000 years ago by King Herod the Great. We explored the Roman Theater where tens of thousands of Jews and Christians were martyred. We're not 100% certain of the location, but there are strong indicators that this is where Peter was crucified upside down. Congregations from all around the world (Italian, Korean, Mongolian, British) who are visiting this site, sit in the round and are singing in their native tongues. This was my favorite stop of the day. An extremely moving experience.

The smell of the Mediterranean Sea, and the blue skies were the perfect backdrop. Being Shabbat (the Sabbath day), there are Jewish families observing the day of rest.....having picnics together and playing soccer here and along most of our route today.

We then drove up to Mt. Carmel, the site where Elijah challenged and defeated the 450 prophets of Baal. Such a beautiful overlook of the entire valley...we could even see the underground bunkers located in the Valley of Megiddo (Armageddon), where the Israeli army houses defense systems and fighter jets.

Lastly we drove to Nazareth where we visited the Mount of Precipice. We were rewarded with another sweeping view of Mt. Tabor and the Yizrael Valley.

Another day of adventure waits! To be continued….

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Hey there!
I’m Ashley...'American Made' because I was born in the incredible US of A and proudly raised in a military family. I’ve enjoyed living and traveling around the world since I was a child. I’ve explored over two dozen countries and always have a bag packed, ready for my next adventure!
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