Photography by Leah
Lifestyle documentary photographer from Vancouver, British Columbia. Specializing in families, couples, and branding.
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Israel | Our Family Adventures; Vancouver Documentary Lifestyle Photographer

{FAMILY ADVENTURES; VANCOUVER FAMILY LIFESTYLE DOCUMENTARY PHOTOGRAPHER} 

History. Food. People. Beauty.

My daughter at the West Wall.

My daughter at the West Wall.

Last Spring, in 2017, my family and I had the opportunity to travel to Israel.  The trip was months in the making and my father-in-law took the reigns planning out the whole adventure after I had missed my son's first trip to Israel with my husband the year prior.  It was 12 days of GO-GO-GO and I couldn't be happier with how the whole trip turned out.  We visited so many beautiful places filled with so many stories I couldn't imagine fitting all the images in one post.

This trip was my longest haul yet.  The furthest I have ever flown was to Amsterdam in my early 20s.  My husband's family consisting of his father and two brothers would have arrived before us and would have everything our family four needed for a trip like this.  My daughter had just returned from Montreal after 2 years away from home so it was the perfect time to get away and bond.  

Sea of Galilea

Sea of Galilea

Our home base was in Tel Aviv where we stayed in an apartment right by the beach.  We visited so many places and I am still in awe that it was a trip that I actually took part of.  That's why it has taken this long for me to put this blog together.  So I thought to answer the question of "How was Israel?" in 4 parts:

History.

As my daughter put it: These are some old rocks here.  We went to places like Cessarea and Tiberias.  We walked through the amphitheatre and admired the acoustics.  We went through the underground city in Akko where it taught us more about the history of the Crusades.  We visited places like Nazareth and Jaffa where you can just feel the essence of the stories you would hear about these places.  

The Siq in Petra, Jordan

The Siq in Petra, Jordan

So many places I found myself during my trip just really took my breath away:

  • Masada

Set on top of a mountain, this fortress is one of King Herod's palaces.  I recommend going as soon as it opens as it does get pretty hot up there as the day goes on.  There is a step path that you can take to the top (and this is NO Grouse Grind with that heat) or opt for the gondola.  I opted for the gondola with the kids while my husband, his two brothers, and his father-in-law took to the path.  You feel so high up seeing that the Dead Sea in the distance is 1,400 ft below sea level and you are standing 200 ft above sea level at Masada.  You can go through the ruins of the palace which include various rooms with beautiful mosaic floors and decor as well as take pictures of the panoramic views.

  • Petra, Jordan

While we visited Eilat, a city in the most southern part of the country along the Red Sea, my father-in-law booked a tour that picked us up from our hotel and took us into Petra, Jordan.  The tour company took care of our us and prepped us on the bus what we would see as we crossed the border into Jordan from Israel.  We took one of the earlier times in hopes to avoid the heat of the sun but it was still hot for me.  When we arrived to the park, we started our way through The Siq where our tour guide spoke about various sections and the historic significance.  At one point, he took out his cellphone and began to place the theme song to Raiders of the Lost Ark.  The highlight was when we reached the Treasury.  I had seen the Treasury in so many movies it was surreal to be standing right in front of it at one point.  I was amazed that my son, who was 5 years old at the time, made it up and down The Siq with no complaint. 

  • Old Jerusalem

We had visited Jerusalem earlier in our trip to visit the Israel Museum which houses the Dead Sea Scrolls on our road trip to Nazareth but had to come back with more time to visit Old Jerusalem.  We entered through the Damascas Gate and walked through the corridors of this old city.  Raised Roman Catholic, the highlight of Old Jerusalem was visiting the Church of Holy Sepulchre and touching the stone where it was said that Jesus was cleaned after being taken down from the cross.  I also walked by the Tomb of Christ where the room was filled with incense and I was able to capture the photo of the sun coming through the skylight above the tomb so beautifully.  The city is divided in the Jewish, Christian, Armenian and Arab/Muslim quarters.  We had entered via the Arab/Muslim quarter then walked through toward the Christian quarter before ended our tour at the Jewish quarter.  Some corridors of the old city were jam packed with people and goods but then there are places where you can find other corridors that seemed like no one was around.  After going through additional security we arrived to the West Wall which was divided.  One side was the women's and the other side was the men's.  If you are planning a visit, be sure you read up on the customs as a woman was turned away as she did not have anything to cover her shoulders (she was wearing a tank top and women cannot show shoulders).  Just being in it's presence I had touched the wall as the people prayed around me.  Like I said, amazing.

Tomb of Christ

Tomb of Christ

Market in Old Jerusalem

Market in Old Jerusalem

Church of Holy Selpuchre

Church of Holy Selpuchre

Food.

Breakfast at Cafe Mersand - Americano, Egg in a Basket served with Israeli salad, and tomato jelly

Breakfast at Cafe Mersand - Americano, Egg in a Basket served with Israeli salad, and tomato jelly

I cannot say enough about the food.  It was so good!  Falafels and hummus, shawarmas and rugelach.  These are things I know we have in Vancouver.  Where oh where can I find BUREKAS! Burekas are so good.  For those who don't know what they are, they are pillows of yummy goodness - filo pastry packages filled with cheese, spinach or potatoes.  

There is a market in Tel Aviv called the Carmel Market.  The colours of everything (food, spices, clothing, trinkets, etc) were so vibrant and the smells of the foods were so fragrant. I definitely recommend visiting this market for some fresh pasta located near the entrance or a shawarmas made from a fresh wrap you might've watched being made right in front of you.

In the evening, there are streets in Tel Aviv that are busy with open cafes, bars, and restaurants.  Many of which have street seating where you can sit and enjoy watching the people pass you by.

View of the Dead Sea from Masada.  My daughter standing on the wall.

View of the Dead Sea from Masada.  My daughter standing on the wall.

I'm glad we did as much walking as we did eating!

People.

The best part of this whole trip was meeting my husband's family.  After being with my husband for the past 15 years, it was so great to finally meet them.  The timing was great as our trip into Eilat was timed with my husband's cousin's birthday.  We laughed, we ate, and we talked.  I wished we had more time but looking forward to when we can see them all again.

If you visit the country without family, that's ok too.  The people are so friendly and there are great hotels with plenty of people to help you with anything that you may need.  Coming from Canada I was definitely not used to how much military presence was around but you have to remember this is life for them.  Mandatory military service after high school and obligated to remain in for 24-32 months.  It's a very different life than one would experience in Canada.

Beauty.

Beautiful people.  Beautiful landscapes . Beautiful country.  Everyone was so friendly.  It's amazing how different one side of the country can look from the other.  One side is dry dessert as far as the eye can see and the other side is lush and green, similar to what I am used to here on the westcoast of Canada. 

Growing up Roman Catholic, the country of Israel has definitely had an affect on my life.  As a photographer, the colours, the light, and the textures of everything I saw was so awe inspiring.  The storyteller in me loved the history of everything and the stories they told.  Even though our 12 day long trip was jam packed with all these great sights without a moment to relax, I feel we just chipped at the surface and I can't wait to visit again.

Magazine and our photo album of our trip

Magazine and our photo album of our trip

Memories to keep.

For some time I had collections of travel pictures on my computer but last year I have taken the "practice what you preach" method and have started creating my own memory albums of each of our family trips.  This trip's album came out so great.  It's always a reminder of how special it is when my 5 year old son comes running in the room with the photo album to look at it over and over and talk about what he remembered he did and me tell him stories of activities he didn't remember.

With albums included in my products, I am excited to connect with a possibly new album vendor and start creating my own family albums with the same materials I will be offering my clients soon (I just saw the paper swatches and I am super excited for them!).  Albums - what a keepsake!

Thank you to my husband's family for everything!  For especially making me feel so welcome and sharing with us the beauty of where they live.  It was a trip I will never forget.

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Enjoy a few more of my favourites from our trip!