Saxum Visitor Center in Abu Gosh: a new look at the story of Jesus

I found out about the Saxum center at the IMTM-2019 tourism exhibition in Tel-Aviv, where it was presented as a new interactive center dedicated to the period of Second Temple and Jesus story. 

I was intrigued, but also confused – usually Christian places of interest in Israel are positioning themselves separate from the Judaism. While more then a million tourists from Christian countries come to Israel every year, unfortunately few of them actually understand the links of Jews to Christianity and the links of Jesus to Judaism and the Roman conquest of Judea. 

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Levinsky market

The Queen of Spices from Levinsky Market

Do you know the smell of black pepper? The taste of cinnamon? I also thought I knew before I visited "Tavlinsky" store at Levinsky market in Tel-Aviv. It came out there is a huge difference between the spices you buy in a supermarket and freshly ground spices – like between a ringtone music and a symphony concert. 

The name "Tavlinsky" is a wordplay. "Tavlinim" mean "spices" in Hebrew. And the address of the shop is Levinsky street 57. We got there with a self-guided mobile culinary tour Bitemojo – I wrote about it in my recent article. "Tavlinsky" is the last stop of the Tel-Aviv vegan tour. But obviously this place is not only for vegans. 

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10 things to do in Pristina, Kosovo

There is an expression in Hebrew "Medina ba-derech" ("country on the way"), which means a young country.  In Kosovo you have a chance to witness how a new country is being born. Kosovo declared Independence in 2008 and its status is still questionable.

Kosovo is full of employees of international organizations, from UN peacemakers to European bank clerks, so English here is widely spoken and understood. Posh hotels, hipster coffee shops and Thai massage salons came to Pristina together with foreigners.

For a tourist, Pristina is a nice and hospitable place, although the tourist infrastructure is also "on the way" – no information center, most of the museums are on a reconstruction.

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City of David

The City of David – Where Jerusalem began

When we say "the Old City of Jerusalem" we picture the Jaffa gates, the ramparts, The Holy Sepulcher Church, Via Dolorosa, etc. But the walls of what we know now as "the Old City" are actually not so old – they were build in the 16th century A.D., when Jerusalem was took over by Ottoman Turks and ruled by Suleiman the Magnificent.

Let's go deeper in history – to the tenth century B.C.  This was the time when King David conquered the city of Jebus from Jebusites tribe, renamed it to Jerusalem and established it as the first capital of the United Kingdom of Israel. For the first time the twelve tribes of Israel are unified to one state. Just imagine, this was 3000(!) years ago. Two and a half centuries before Rome was even founded! 

The real ancient Jerusalem – the City of David – is located just outside the Old City Walls, 5 minutes walk from the Dung Gate.

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10 things to do in Ohrid

The cozy town of Ohrid, Macedonia, situated at the lake of Ohrid, is "two in one". It is a historical town packed with magnificent churches and old houses and simultaneously a relaxed resort. We spent only one day in Ohrid, and it was a pity that we could not stay for longer – this place has much more to offer.

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skopje barokko

10 things you may do in Skopje, Macedonia

Disneyland for adults? Las Vegas on steroids? Quite unexpected definitions for a Balkan city, but Skopje, the capital of Macedonia, is exactly this. The municipal authorities have an unhealthy passion for baroque style and gigantic statues. Amusing for tourists, infuriating for local inhabitants, many of which do not like how the old part of the city is changing and how much money is spent on the construction. Skopje is largely undiscovered by tourists yet, so I suggest that you hurry up to visit it while it is still uncrowded and not expensive.

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The Kishle in the Tower of David – Jerusalem Time Travelling Machine in a Room

An archaeologist working in the Old City of Jerusalem resembles a kid in a candy shop – everything around is so exciting! Although when in 1999 the archaeologist Amit Re'em started the excavations of Kishle – former Ottoman military barracks (the word "kışla" in Turkish means "barracks") he did not expect to find anything extraordinary.

Reality exceeded expectations by far. 17-meter-high archaeological section, which visitors of the "Tower of David" museum can see now, is a "layered cake" of all eras of Jerusalem's history. 

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5 reasons to go for a Free Walking Tour

The format of free walking tours started in 2004, and now is popular in Europe and the USA. The right name would be "pay-as-much-as-you-want" tours – there is no obligatory fee, but the guides are earning money on tips from participants. 

In the large European cities the free walking tours are run by large companies like Sandeman's – the pioneers of the format. In less popular tourist destinations individual enthusiast guides. 

For some reasons we were ignoring the free tours for a long time, but we tried them during our recent trip to Albania and Macedonia, and it was an amazing experience! So I would like to share with you the reasons of why to go for a free walking tour. 

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Sharon Cracknell

Book Review: Pringles, Visas and the Glow in the Dark Jesus by Sharon Cracknell

Pringles, Visas and the Glow in the Dark Jesus – on Amazon 

A writing rule says – first phrase should be catchy. "I knew something was seriously wrong when four policemen entered my classroom and signaled me to leave with them" was catchy enough for to continue reading Sharon Cracknell's book. It is in fact a travel diary, story of the author's trips to exotic countries like Uganda, Indonesia or even Kyrgyzstan. 

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The Shrine of the Book in the Israel Museum: from ancient scripts to nanotechnologies

Would you ever believe that the entire Bible text may fit onto a nano chip of a sugar grain size?! Now it is a reality, and you may see it in the Israel Museum in Jerusalem. This incredible exhibit was created for the 50th anniversary of the museum in the laboratories of Technion Institute in Haifa. The engraved text needs to be magnified 10,000 time so a human eye can read it!

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