Main menu:

Memory Lane

Market in the old city of Jerusalem

Site search


Registration disabled | Recover lost password?

Welcome, to our site! After living for some time in Israel and then in the UK we've now moved to Germany. We'd like to share our experiences with you. We hope you have as much fun reading as we have writing.




December 2021

Humus and Hippos

Wow, each time I look at the previous post I’m a little impressed. That I managed to get a grip on a language like that… And one of Emanuel’s colleagues even told us that it was quite good, not that many mistakes…Pretty cool!! 😎
Last week I finally had a chance to go and get the results of the test I took at the end of the Hebrew course. I actually scored 85 out of 100 points at the highest obtainable level for this course! But I have to admit that I did work very hard for it and the test really wasn’t that difficult…But still…pretty cool!
Now, after a few weeks in the Netherlands, I’ve noticed that I’ve already lost a large part of the vocabulary. Most of the grammar is still there (can you imagine how they forced that in), but a lot of words are gone. But I can still have a simple conversation in Hebrew. Has been quite useful several times now, especially when it shows again that not everybody speaks English.

Just before I would have this Hebrew test, mum and dad Wijckmans visited us for 2 weeks. Fearing that I wouldn’t be able to manage on my own 🙄 (Emanuel had a conference during those weeks), they came to keep me company. This time it was their deliberate choice not to do as much as the previous time. This enabled me to follow my Hebrew lessons. And mum and dad could just relax.
We did arrange another tour with Eran, our bird guide. This time we drove around in the Beit She’an valley. Only a few days later we returned to this area to visit the old city of Beit She’an. Emanuel and I had been there before (with Jakob and Ingrid), but it was one of the few places we hadn’t visited on mum and dad’s previous holiday in Israel.
Beit She’an is located about half an hour drive south of the Sea of Galilee. Since the 1920’s archeological excavations have taken place here, uncovering remains of settlements dating back until 5000 BCE (before the current era). The oldest settlements were found on top of a hill, now called the ‘Tel’. In the late Canaan period (16th till 12th century BCE) the city fell under Egyptian rule. In the Bible we can read about how Saul was defeated in the battle at mount Gilboa, located close to Beit She’an. His decapitated body was displayed on the walls of the city together with the bodies of his sons, as a warning to the enemy. Saul’s son, King David did succeed to conquer the city and it became the centre of the region under the reign of Salomon (David’s son). In 732 BCE the city was destroyed in an attack, only to flourish again during the Hellenistic period, renamed Nysa-Scythopolis. At the end of the 2nd century BCE the city came back under Jewish rule, to be conquered again by the Romans in 63 BCE. During their reign the city became the most important city in the region and flourished. Later mainly Christians settled in the city, but after the Arab conquest the city lost its important position. Finally in 749 the city was destroyed completely in an earthquake. Until today the city never regained its importance. A modern settlement was raised around the centre of the old city. It’s in this city centre that we can now visit the archeological excavations.
Along two of the main streets remains have been found of two large bath houses, a temple, a monumental fountain, the agora and an enormous theater. The size of the complexes makes you wonder how impressive the city must have been when she was at the peak of her glory. Take for example the theater. Now it looks huge, but once it was three times as high, a total of about 20 meter and it seated 7000 visitors. That also gives a good impression of the size of the city when the theater was in use. I doubt the theater in Maastricht can seat that many people!! 😯

What mum and dad didn’t really get to do the previous time they were in Israel, is have a look around Tel Aviv itself. So we took a walk around Neve Tzedek, had a look at the arts and crafts fair, took a stroll on the boulevard…
We also visited the Baha’i Gardens in Haifa. Last year we also came here with mum and dad, but we only saw the gardens from the entry gates at the top and the bottom of the gardens, and from the street that leads from the bottom of the gardens towards the harbor. To enter the actual gardens you have to make an appointment. So this time we arranged this in due time and now we’d get to see the gardens up close… Well, now at least we know why the tour is for free 😐 …in a little less than 45 minutes a group of about 30 people is guided down from the upper entrance to the mausoleum half way down, walking down some 750 stairs. Some 3 times the guide stops to explain a few details and then immediately continues his path. The group is followed by another employer of the gardens, who encourages everyone who’s not moving quickly enough to hurry on. With our eyes focused on the stairs because of the speed at which we’re moving down the stairs, we hardly got a chance to actually look at the gardens, take a picture or simply think about what the guide explained. The mausoleum is off limits for non-Baha’i believers, so that’s where the tour ends. To get back to the car we can choose from two options: walk back up looping around the gardens, or take a cab. We choose the second option and a couple of minutes later we’re enjoying the view. Not too much later we’re having an ice cream in Haifa’s area that’s called the German Settlement. The main street leads from the lowest entry of the gardens to the harbor and is lined with cafes, bars, restaurants and obviously an ice cream shop. Also from this street the view at the gardens is beautiful. Maybe that’s the problem, the gardens are best appreciated from a distance. From up close you might wonder how they can keep the grass as green, or how they can get all plants and flowers as pretty…But looking from a distance you are impressed by a work of art, lines flowing over into one another, green making place for all kinds of colors…Yeah, the Baha’i Gardens can be very beautiful…

A little more than a week after mum and dad left we too headed for the Netherlands. As from the beginning of 2008 there have been direct flights between Tel Aviv and Liege, and for good prices too. A lot easier for everyone. And we got lucky…we we’re redirected to Maastricht!! Unfortunately we landed with some delay, so mum and dad had to wait for us on an empty Maastricht Aachen Airport…
As mentioned before we spent a couple of weeks in the Netherlands. Or rather, I spent 4 weeks in the Netherlands and Emanuel 2 in the Netherlands and 1 in the USA, at a conference. Although 4 weeks seems a lot, time flew again. We started with some things we wanted to arrange for Jakob and Ingrid’s wedding that took place on the 11th of October. And then off course there’s friends and family to visit, most of whom we hadn’t seen for at least half a year. A little hectic, but more importantly very nice.

Because Emanuel had this conference, he arrived a couple of days earlier in Tel Aviv then I would. But I didn’t have to travel alone…Menno and Lian joined me on my flight and spent a 2 week holiday with us! The main point was, not to ‘have to’ do anything, so we took it nice and easy all trough these 2 weeks. We started with some of the attractions located nearby: in Jaffo we tried some humus and falafel and enjoyed the sun and the sea breeze, in the park around Nahal Alexander we went looking for the soft shelled turtles, in Tel Aviv we enjoyed the beach, the souk, the arts and craft market and the shopping malls. Then we went to Jerusalem, of course also Menno and Lian wanted to know what the fuss is all about… And, as with everyone we took there, the main emotion is surprise over the chaos in the Holy Sepulcher…it is supposed to be a holy place…We also didn’t forget Masada, where we took the snake path up. This time of year the sky is a lot clearer, so we had a much better view over the Dead Sea, where we floated around for a while later that day. We also took a walk in Ein Avedat, went to see the remains of the old city of Avedat to end that day at Ramon Crater to see the sunset. In the north we only visited Beit She’an, where took a nice walk and enjoyed the view over the valley. (Here too the view was much better!)
But of all we’ve visited and seen…what impressed them most…? Menno? The humus and falafel. No matter if we’d been walking in the desert, trough the streets of Beit She’an, or just left the Holy Sepulcher behind us…Menno was only thinking about humus and falafel. And what impressed Lian most? Hippos! Yeah, we have hippos in Ramat Gan! In the middle of the city there’s a safari park with zoo and in the safari they have hippos. The result: about 500 pictures of hippos! (And that’s not counting the analog pictures that have been taken!)
But hey, I have to admit, humus and falafel can be slightly addictive. And it’s is very tasty!!
As for the hippo’s…well…I guess I got hooked too, a little… But then, we we’re incredibly lucky that day…When we arrived at the little lake where the hippos spend most of their day, most of them were still on dry land. By the time we’d found a good spot to watch them from, we’d also discovered a few young hippos in the water, who would every now and then have a playful fight amongst them. One by one the other young ones followed their little friends into the water, followed a little later by the adult hippos. The last dozen hippos came running into the water as soon as they realized that lunch was being served…a couple of meters away from our car!! And that’s how we got to sit face to face with half a family of these animals! At some point they started retreating back into the water, with what I assume must have been filled bellies, until nothing more than their backs where visible, like little islands in the lake.
Further down the road in the safari we also came face to face with a rhino, saw zebra’s cross right in front of us and met a slightly wacko addax (kind of antelope). In the zoo we saw a lot of monkeys but also a couple of elephants, giraffes and crocodiles. And we had the honor of watching a snake shed its skin.
Hippos, humus and falafel, a good laughing fit every now and then and good moods…altogether they proofed to be ingredients for a great holiday.

A couple of days after Menno and Lian left we had our first real rainy day. Or at least…it rained during a part of the day. The next day the weather was beautiful again, but the temperature had dropped quite a few degrees. Because there’s no central heating anywhere inside, I walk around in a warm sweater and on house shoes most of the day now. Outside it’s still beautiful weather and in the sunshine it can still be nice and warm, but the summer is really over now. But hey, the real Israeli has been saying the same thing since September. And is now walking around in coats and scarfs, even hats and mittens. ❗

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.