Apr 022008
 

My intention after returning from Brazil was to settle down, complete a few lingering personal projects, and work for 4 or 5 months before returning to Japan in the summer.

Scratch that.

I depart on April 10th for the Middle East.

Why?

Because my father is Jewish. And if either parent is Jewish, and you’re between the ages of 18 and 26, then a wonderful organization called Taglit-Birthright will send you to Israel for 10 days, completely free. All airfare, lodging, tours, and food are included. All you have to do is get to the departure point in New York City.

Here’s a partial list of the things I’ll be covering in the first ten days:
– Visit Caesarea’s ancient amphitheater on the Mediterranean
– Explore the mystical ancient city of Tzfat
– Experience traditional lunch in the Druze Village of Pekiin
– Ziplining from the Manara Cliffs in the Upper Galilee
– Rafting on the Jordan River
– Dinner along the shores of Tiberias
– Cruise on the Sea of Galilee
– Overnight at a Kibbutz
– Ascend Mt. Ben Tal
– Wine tasting at the Golan Heights Winery
– Hike down the lush Jilaboun Canyon
– Swim under waterfalls in the natural pools of Sachne Park
– Ascend the outer Rampart Walls of the Old City of Jerusalem
– Walk through King Hezekiah’s water tunnel in David’s City
– Tour of the Old City’s legendary Jewish Quarter
– Night walk and bonfire along the “Burma Road” trail in the Jerusalem foothills
– Descend into the Judean Desert
– Sunrise ascent to Masada via the Snake Path
– Nature walk to the desert waterfalls at Ein Gedi Reserve
– Floating along the beaches of the Dead Sea
– Visit to the desert outpost at Sde Boker
– Camel tour & traditional Bedouin hafla dinner feast
– Overnight under the stars in a Bedouin tent
– Hike to the desert oasis at Ein Avdat Canyon
– Crawl through the archaeological caves of Hirbet Midras
– Relaxation along the Mediterranean beaches of Tel Aviv

After this ten-day package concludes, I’ll be heading back up to Galilee and beginning a 4-day bike ride to the Negev Desert in the south. This ride is also included as part of my Israel Outdoors program – it’s the first time they’ve ever done it, and I just happened to be lucky enough to get a spot.

These above itineraries are set.

After concluding the ride, it’s my intention to extend my ticket and travel to Petra, Jordan and then Egypt – to see the Pyramids, Sphinx, Luxor, and climb Mt. Sinai.

So much for settling down for awhile. I take off in one week.

  15 Responses to “The Middle East”

  1. Damn…..that is NUTS. I want to do that too

  2. Damn Justin, that is awesome – I’ve always wanted to see Petra and Masada. Any chance you could hit Constantine, Algeria or the ruins of Leptis Magna in Libya?

  3. I’m so glad to see that you got in! Keep the sand out of your camera and let us all know how it goes.

  4. Hahahah that’s so funny… I just corresponded by email with the birthright people in London TODAY about going on one of their trips… you and I always seems to follow each other around the world. Have fun!

  5. Andy: You should! You can still make the Winter trips this year if you apply…

    Dave: Yea, I’m pretty excited – both Petra and the Pyramids are on my “absolutely must see in my lifetime” list. As far as those other spots, I don’t think so – Libya won’t even let you in the country if you’ve ever been to Israel (gimme a break :roll: ), and Algeria is just too far away…

    Dylan: Thanx 🙂 Actually I’ve been debating recently how to handle the camera issue – I haven’t been bringing my SLR with me for the sake of keeping my luggage as compact as possible, but now that I’ve learned my lesson I feel like I definitely need to travel with a spare…and I don’t have two ultra-compacts nor do I really want to buy another one that’ll be outdated exactly at the same time as my current…

    Alana: Haha crazy! So did you decide to do it? There must not be that many more opportunities, right? Age-wise?

  6. The pyramids … As I wanted to fit within your bag!

  7. well I am good for another 2 and a half years, age-wise. But I am thinking this might be the year. I figure I should at least start my new job before planning when to take two weeks off tho… so no firm plans yet.

  8. Well, that depends – I specifically scheduled this before starting a job, so I’d have the ability to extend and do the Jordan/Egypt leg without restrictions. Getting to the middle east ain’t cheap, so I figured as long as I’m there I might as well squeeze in a few other necessary locations 😉

  9. Ah that makes sense. Luckily it’s a lot closer when you live in Europe so I don’t feel that pressure.

  10. Damn. I missed my opportunity, I tried to go a few years ago but have now missed the deadline. (I am 27 now). My father is also Jewish and to top it off, my grandmother lives in Netanya.

  11. Aw, that’s REALLY too bad! How come it didn’t work out a few years ago? 🙁

  12. My justification is that when I learned about the Birthright trips I was at a crossroads, I was 24 and working full time after losing a full ride scholarship and; “I decided to go back to school and finish a degree” But really, it is simply my fault for not seizing the opportunity when I could have. Mega kudos to you for never passing on opportunities, dropping everything – if that is what it takes, and living life to the fullest. The reason I am loving your blog: I am a like minded dreamer who hasn’t manifeshted my potential as well as you have. I see your experiences as if i could have been there. It truly is inspiration, cultural education and motivation. Crazy that I started reading because I implemented WP-Fb premium, checked your documentation, started browsing, and realized how AWESOME this site is! Just got back from a good ol American Halloween keg party – here’s to your safety in Bankok from a freind in FL!

  13. Crazy that I started reading because I implemented WP-Fb premium

    Yeah, I was actually thinking that just the other day – readers can come from the most random places. And sometimes, even the opposite is true – I met one of my good friends in Osaka by total chance when he glanced over in a club and said “Hey, are you Justin Klein? I recognize you from your blog!”

    Just got back from a good ol American Halloween keg party – here’s to your safety in Bankok from a freind in FL!

    Thanks! Halloween here actually turned out to be pretty awesome…here are some pics if ur interested. Look for the zombie babies 🙂

    I am a like minded dreamer who hasn’t manifeshted my potential as well as you have. I see your experiences as if i could have been there

    It’s never too late! Peder, one of my two main travel companions (the other zombie baby above) is 35 and still livin’ the life 😉

    it is simply my fault for not seizing the opportunity when I could have.

    Yeah, that’s a shame – but at least you realize it, so next time an opportunity comes you WILL jump up to seize it! 😉

  14. Yeah, that’s a shame – but at least you realize it, so next time an opportunity comes you WILL jump up to seize it!

    Damn right. Missed opportunities (and reading this blog) makes me realize just how important it is to Carpe Diem.

    Halloween here actually turned out to be pretty awesome…here are some pics if ur interested. Look for the zombie babies

    Bahahahaha Great costumes/pics! So Peder came to Bankok for halloween too, awesome!

  15. Makes me realize just how important it is to Carpe Diem.

    …Or as is often true in my case, Carpe Noctem :mrgreen:

    Bahahahaha Great costumes/pics!

    Thanks! There will be loads more, if I can ever manage to catch up with writing 😛

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