We flew to Israel for the February school holidays

On our first day here, we walk through the Blumfield gardens towards the old city.First view of the old city!

Archeological sites are everywhere. This was on our walk to the old city.

Many stands had pomegranates, they're juiced just like oranges

Jaffa gate

Back at the hotel. In the summer, hanging out on these hammocks would have been nice! It was a little chilly, though.Walking on the old Ramparts

You get a view of the police stables from the ramparts

And...whatever the heck this is! Dummies for training purposes, I guess. Creepy.Peter assiduously picked every flower he saw

Just outside the ramparts was another path that looked interesting too

Some kind of abandoned schoolAgain - ruins and excavations everywhere

We walked past a huge group of orthodox kids playing some very energetic games on this playground.Later on we saw a guy guarding them, further along on the city wall.

More ruins...

At the Western Wall, formerly known as the Wailing Wall. The women's section and men's section are separate, and I have to say, NOT at all equal - the women's section was about a quarter the size, and of course much more crowded.

The kids and Eric borrowed some yarmukes.

The wall between the women's and men's section of the Western Wall. There were lots of plastic chairs to make it easier for groups to talk across the wall. You can also see the walkway leading to the Dome of the Rock.

Lots of Bar Mitzvahs were happening

In the streets of Old Jerusalem.

Coke, in Arabic.The church of the Holy Sepulchre

People lined up to see Jesus' tomb

Waiting to get into the Temple mount area (Dome of the Rock). The hours were VERY restrictive, we only had about 20 minutes there before they closed for a long lunch break.The walkway to the Temple Mount

Excavations are taking place right next to it

These riot shields are inside the walkway, just outside the Temple Mount areaInside the Temple Mount. Unfortunately we were only able to stay there a short while before we were ushered out with all the rest of the tourists.

Just outside the Temple Mount area, there was a group of pilgrims from Sri Lanka walking the Way of the Cross

Soldiers everywhere

Lots and lots of christian tourists were around. This is a group of nuns from the Philipines

The Church of the HOly SepulchreWe went through all the stations of the cross. Number 9 was the most difficult to find, but we finally did, after asking a few people.

The northern part of the Ramparts Walk

Around the Damascus Gate

This is the Muslim quarterOn our way to the Dead Sea and Masada. This is just as we were descending below sea level

At the En Gedi nature reserveWe ended up taking one of the shorter waterfall hikes

Thank goodness we were already on our way out when a HUGE group of school girls came up. There must have been about 300 of them

We had lunch at the McDonalds at Masada! There's a huge food court there at the base, because eating isn't allowed up top.The view from the top of Masada. The square you see is one of the many Roman camps around the base, when Masada was attacked.

We took the easy way and went up on the cable car

A close-up of the ruins from one of the old Roman campThe Dead Sea off in the distance

A shelter on top of Masada where you can drink some water and escape from the sun.About to enter one of the cisterns on Masada. Very large and impressive.