Well, it’s been a few days now, so I guess I need to get all this down while I still remember it. The biggest question people have been asking me is: “Why did you go to Israel?” Easy answer, my company sent me over there for training. “Training you say, why not Redmond?” Good question! The training I attended was for our new version of our Anti-virus software. The development team for that product is based in Israel. So the product group decided to host the training in their home office in Herzliya.
So what happened? Here is the breakdown..
OK. So my day one story will actually cover 2 days. It was a long flight. Let Pittsburgh about 5:00 pm on a Monday. Pittsburgh to Philadelphia (about 30 minutes) then Philadelphia to Tel Aviv (about 11 hours!). The flight was not too bad. I could not really get a good night sleep, and the nice Russian lady next to me only fell asleep on me for a little at the end of the flight. (That remind me, I need to write my post on pet peeves
As luck would have it, we hit Tel Aviv right around rush hour, so we finally made it to the hotel, the Daniel. 24 hours minus the 7 hour time change and you get a total travel time of 14 hours.
Click here to get some pictures of the view from the hotel and the walk on the beach. More on that later. So the first night in the hotel was pretty uneventful. After getting into the room and unpacking all my stuff, I went for a walk to see the beach and find something for dinner.
Click here for pictures from the dinner table. Lucky for me I found Avi’s Place on the beach just below our hotel. Don’t remember the name of the fish… but it was good!
After dinner I went back up to the hotel and met up with my customer that was also on the trip for the training. He found a nice little Bar / Sushi place just up the beach called Sugoi Bar. This place ended up being out nightly hangout. See some pictures here.
A short first day, but not a bad one.
Time to go to work…
OK, it is Wednesday now. So we begin the day with a good breakfast from the HUGH buffet that the hotel has (included with the room). It had jut about everything you could imagine: eggs, omelet station, fruits, veggies, fish, cereal, cakes, squeeze your own OJ or Grapefruit juice, and more. About the only thing that was not on the menu was breakfast meats. No bacon…
The training was for the new version of our Anti-Virus product for corporations called Forefront Endpoint Protection. The training was very good. Lectures in the morning, lunch, a lab then some more lectures.
The evening of the first night, the product group setup a dinner at Ilana Goor Museum & Gallery, which is a museum in Jaffe, south of Tel Aviv.
The museum is owned by the Israeli artist, Ilana Goor. The museum has an interesting history. Originally it was a hostel for Jewish pilgrims. When the Arabs moved in, an Arab family ran an olive oil business there. After the Israelis came back in, the Arab family fled, first hiding their possessions in the basement. During a remodel, the artist found the previous families possessions. After some searching, she found the family and got their possessions back to them.
Pictures from the museum tour and dinner are here.
End of Day Two!
OK, I guess I just don’t adjust to local time all that efficiently. Last night, and this night, I first wake up at about 3:45. Try to go back to sleep, and get up again at about 4:30. Then again at 5:00. The first night, it may not have been my fault that I got up at 4:30 or so. See there are a lot of feral cats around. The first night, 2 of them decided to have a throw-down outside my room. I was willing to let them go until they started banging off the windows. So I got up to chase them off. They did not come back the rest of the week.
Night one, I kept trying to get back to sleep until the alarm at 6:00. I never really did. So the second night when I was up at about 4:45, I decided to get up and go for a walk from 5:00 to 6:00.
My room at 5:00am:
You can see he open door behind the second recliner. For the walk, I grabbed my camera and started by heading up the street to see what was north of the hotel. A few more resorts, what looked like a bombed out night club:
Yes, there actually was a working nightclub in the basement of that building. It opened up every night. Interesting, but we did not spend a lot of time there.
I walked up the up the road about as far as I could while staying along the beach. As soon as the road started to head away from the beach (about 20 minute walk), I turned down to the beach and walked back to the hotel. Back by 6 to get ready, have breakfast and head on to the second day of training.
One of my fraternity brothers, Mike, now lives in Israel. Been there for almost a year. (His wife grew up in Israel.) We got together Thursday night for a few drink and some sushi at our nightly watering hole. Mike has not had a chance to get back to the States since moving to Israel. And I am the first of his college buddies to head to the middle east (go figure). It was a good night catching up. Now we just need to get Mike and family back (Homecoming maybe) for a visit here….
End of day three.
The training was only 2 days. The product group also setup an optional third day for anyone who stayed to do a tour of Jerusalem. Interestingly enough, the day before our tour, the US Embassy in Israel issued a warning for US citizens to avoid the area due to threats of violence in retaliation for the IDF seizure of the Turkish ship trying to break the Gaza blockade. Maybe in a future post, I’ll take about that one… maybe not.
The warning from the US State Department actually worked out in our favor, per out tour guide. He told us that there would have been a lot more people in Jerusalem otherwise. He also rearranged out tour to miss any of the possible trouble. All in all, no issues.
We started the tour on top of Mt. of Olives. Our guide has a masters in ancient religions and gave fantastic talks on the history of the region, interweaving the Arab, Jewish and Christian traditions.
(Above: Photosynth of my pictures from the top of Mt. of Olives)
The next stop, after a short walk down the Mt. of Olives was to The Church of Agony. Here was the first thing that made you Hmm… (or, what the heck was that?) During the talk from the tour guide, a bus ran over a water bottle making a loud *POP*. I knew it was not a gun shot, but it too a bit to figure it out. No problem. Across the street from The Church of Agony is Judgment Valley.
After the stop at the Valley, we hopped back on the bus for a quick trip up to the museum on top of the architectural dig over what is considered to be the City of David. Nice to see the troops here having a “tour” of the museum!
From the City of David, a quick walk up the street to the Dung Gate and into the Western Wall. This is the only area that non-Muslims are allowed. Unfortunately we could not get on to the actual Temple Mount. That would have been cool.
Leaving the Western Wall, we headed into the old city of a quick walking tour. We stopped at a few Stations of the Cross along the way. After some quick shopping we next headed to the Church of the Holy Sepulcur. In here you have the places where the *think* Jesus was nailed to the cross, die, was prepared fro burial and finally buried. What I found more interesting was the area the guide showed us that was found after a fire in one of the churches. They found behind a wall some Jewish burial chambers that date to the right time. Not proof by any means, but shows that the area was a cemetery at the time Jesus was buried there.
Leaving the Church of the Holy Sepulcur, we walked a little more through the old city and exited the Zion Gate. Back on the bus we took a short drive to the Arab city of Abu Gosh. Here we went to a restaurant called Caravan Restaurant. This was probably the best dinner I had in Israel. Started off with salad and all kinds of dips. Next, fresh made hummus. Wow was that stuff good. Finally the main course of chicken kabobs, lamb chops, fries and rice. Espresso and falafel for desert.
Finally back to the hotel. Click here for pictures of the tour. Click here for pictures of the dinner.
The final day. Today I spent the day swimming in the Med, laying on the beach and hanging out at the pool. The flight back home was the red-eye this night.
It was a great trip. If you ever get the chance to go, go. I had fun and never worried for my safety. Here is a summary of my picture and Photosynth links.
Dinner, Day 1: http://cid-33213b44de70936a.photos-df.live.com/browse.aspx/Israel%2005.31-06.06.2010/Dinner%20Day%201
Jerusalem Dinner: http://cid-33213b44de70936a.photos-df.live.com/browse.aspx/Israel%2005.31-06.06.2010/Jerusalem%20Dinner
Hotel and Beach: http://cid-33213b44de70936a.photos-df.live.com/browse.aspx/Israel%2005.31-06.06.2010/The%20Hotel%20and%20Beach
What the... : http://cid-33213b44de70936a.photos-df.live.com/browse.aspx/Israel%2005.31-06.06.2010/What%20the
Mt. of Olives: http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=d26c395d-019b-43eb-9f47-51a850ac5749
Judgment Valley: http://photosynth.net/view.aspx?cid=5c5a69f9-f91c-4b80-b9a0-ff6ff70ef84c