Have you booked your tickets to Marrakesh? If you have, count yourself lucky. You are in for an adventure of a lifetime! Morocco is unlike any place we have visited. With its interesting culture, delectable cuisine and welcoming locals, Marrakesh is indeed an enchanting destination. With a city that offers so much, we came up with a list of the top “must experience.”
Lets start with a quick primer for the city. Marrakesh is the fourth largest city in Morocco, and is very tourist-friendly. English and French are spoken at most restaurants and hotels and across the city. At the heart of the city is “Old Marrakesh”, it is surrounded by fortified walls and battlements. At the center of the old city is the central square called Jemaa el-Fnaa. This sizable public area is surrounded by tourist focused restaurants and filled to the brim with arts and crafts vendors, snake charmers, and crowds of visitors.
1) Stay in a Riad-To truly partake in the vibe of the city, we highly recommend staying in one of the Riads in the old medina. Riads are converted mansions that now play host to tourists as a bed and breakfast. We stayed at the Riad Houdou. This riad has well-appointed rooms, engaging staff, and a rooftop dining area that is enchanting. Riads are the perfect bases to seeing the city. Hosts can help you navigate the narrow alleyways and build your itinerary. Most are very affordable all the way up to the high-end lodging for the well-healed.
2) Yves St. Lauren Museum and Le Jardin Majorelle– Are you ready to relive some 80s chic? Look no further than this museum dedicated to the design powerhouse Yves and his partner Pierre. They would frequent the city and created an enclave with gardens and a bright blue home. The gardens on the property are absolutely incredible.
3) The Maison de la Photographie de Marrakech -Although modest in size, this little museum was my favorite of our visit. It contains a collection of early photos of Morocco. You get a feel for what life was like during the era of sultans and Bedouins. They have a gift shop on the first floor with prints of just about all of the art you will see.
4) Jewish Cemetery-One of the highlights of my visit was wandering the Jewish Cemetery. At one time, Marrakech had a large community of Jews. Now they number less than 200 within the city. Gravestones are whitewashed and many include Hebrew and French inscriptions. For more information on the cemetery, please visit here.
5) Side trip to the Sahara- If you know us well, we love side trips. One that we would highly recommend is a journey out to the Sahara. There are a number of companies that will offer transportation and tent stays out on the grand desert. Know this, it is a ways out of town. The drive is 8-10 hours one way. The trip takes you over the Atlas Mountains which are nothing short of Instagram worthy! We stayed just one night on the sand and took some amazing pictures of the desert.
6) Golf-With over a dozen different courses and weather that will never disappoint, golfing in Marrakech is a must-do for the golfing enthusiast. We played the Royal Golf Course and the Assoufid Golf Club. While the Royal was much more buttoned-up, and high end. The Assoufid was a great track for a relaxed game. The Royal actually hosted Churchill and Eisenhower during the war. Plan your outing for early in the AM to avoid the oppressive heat.
7) Handicraft center- Make a trip to the center square and you will be bombarded by enterprising sellers to sell you their wares. We highly recommend avoiding the maylay of hawkers. There is a handicraft center just outside the medina that has some really high quality, and fairly priced items to take home. They highlight local artists and craftsmen so you can be assured that you are not getting taken. The best thing about the center? All prices are posted.
8) Dinner on the square- As we mentioned above, the food in Morocco is a delight! The mesh of French and Arabic culinary traditions is the perfect marriage. Spice? Yes! Butter and wine? Yes! There is a wide variety of different offerings catering to just about any taste.
9) El Badi Palace-There are a number of ruins in the city that are interesting and of historical importance, none more so than the El Badi Palace. Nicknamed the Palace of Wonder, it lives up to every inch of its name. The former seat of power for the Sultan Ahmad al-Mansur, the palace has a huge throne room, reflection pools and massive walls. There is a citrus orchard in the center as well.
10)The Saadian Tombs-One of the off the beaten path attractions is this set of ornately tiled tombs. The stonework and tile work set this location apart. The arches over the tombs are absolutely incredible.
We hope you enjoy your journey to Marrakech! Reach out to us if you have questions or if we can assist in any way!
Cry– Let’s start right there? Let’s all have an ugly weep about not being able to get out and see the world in ways we have in the past. It’s ok to have a good sook! We are truly sad!
2. Read a Travel Book-Some of the best journeys we can take are in our own minds. Emily Dickinson said, “To travel far, there is not better ship than a book.” Read a novel set in a place that you have dreamed of visiting. I am just finishing reading “Death on the Nile” by Agatha Christie. It has inspired a serious case of wanderlust. What is your fave “travel” book?
3. Be Grateful- Say a prayer, write a poem, draw a picture. What locations are you most grateful for experiencing? Now is a great time to connect with past travel companions or hosts. Let these people know how much they mean to you.
4. Get out and see your area-Some of the often-overlooked destinations may be in your own back yard. Luci and I have ventured to locations near our home in Boise, Idaho. There is so much to see and do that don’t require a passport. Where safe, take a day trip and see something new in your area.
We took a recent drive to some waterfalls that we had been driving by for 30+ years! They were flat out amazing! We are embarrassed that we never took the short drive to see them! For those of you in southwest Idaho, go check out Malad Gorge! They are stunning falls!
5. Journaling-The Fighting Couple are avid journalists. We love recording our experiences, our victories and defeats. The blog itself was born from a desire to share ideas and tips to our friends around the globe. Now is a great time to take up the journaling. For those of you that have been in the practices, go back and read of past adventures.
Journaling is time travel. Reading a passage, you wrote years ago will bring back the tastes, the smells, the joys you felt visiting that faraway place. We promise you many of your perspectives will bring a smile to your face. It can be as simple as recording the mundane tasks you completed today, all the way up to documenting the many emotions you are facing being quarantined.
We highly recommend the beautiful Journals of Oberon Designs. We have used their journals for almost 20 years!
6. Organize your pictures– We chose this one so we would feel guilty! We have so much work to do to get all of our pictures sorted. How are you doing on getting your pictures in one place? Have you ever done a Shutterfly book, featuring one of your trips?
7. Set goals-Where do you want to go next? What would you do there and why? How would you get there? What budget would you need? We have an epic trip in mind for 2022. We are starting now on the building the plan. Now is a great time to do the research. Now is a great time to connect with others that have been and can share their perspective.
8. Share your stories- This is a big one. Find a way to share what you have seen with others. One of our favorite things is hosting “trip reports” after we return from one of our adventures. We invite a bunch of friends for food, conversation and a few pictures of our trip. It is a great chance share what you have learned. Your travel might inspire someone to get out and see the world. Times have changed, now we do these get togethers via Zoom.
Sharing your travels can also shape young minds. Don’t miss opportunities to share your adventures with youth or school groups. When I was a child, I had an Aunt Maurine that had traveled the world. They had spent a month traveling in India. Hearing her share her harrowing tales inspired my own wanderlust.
9. Learn a Language-Where do you want to go next? How about investing a few hours a week to learn that local language? There are so many tools online and on your phone that can make your home a language learning academy.
10. Save your Pennies- Now is a great time to get your finances in order. Save a few dollars ever month for your dream trip to Kathmandu. Pay off some of the student loans. Get yourself on a budget. Staying at home more gives you more control over your food and entertainment budgets. Netflix and chill is affordable!
These are a just a few things that we are doing to keep us occupied till our next flight (soon we hope!) We are thinking of you our readers. We miss sharing new places with you. Don’t worry, in time we will all be back out there! Stay safe!
There are few places on the planet like Ushuaia. It is one of those places you don’t accidentally end up visiting. It is a village of beginnings and endings.
Perched on the southern tip of Argentina, Ushuaia claims the title of the southern most city on the earth. It is often called the “fin del Mundo” (end of the earth). Tourism provides the lifeblood of the village. Ushuaia and her sister city Punta Arenas, Chile, are key departure points for tourist, scientific and activist departures to Antarctica.
Ushuaia is far from just a transit port. It is a beautiful and interesting area all on its own. The backdrop for the city are dramatic peaks, dense forests, and alpine lakes. The Beagle Channel marks the southern border of the city. The dramatic scenery attracted the eye of Alejandro Gonzalez Inarriu who shot his famed film, The Revenant, here in 2015. Even an ill fated edition of Top Gear was filmed here (until they were run out of the city for making references to the Falkland War.)
According to tradition, the word Ushuaia comes from the Yaghan language: ush and waia (“bay” or “cove”) and means “deep bay”. This name is very fitting. Its port hosts expedition ships with flags from around the globe.
A Storied History
The city was founded by British explorers and settled by missionaries. It was later converted into a penal colony that housed the worst of the worst offenders due to the fact that escape was impossibly dangerous. The prison was done away with by President Peron in the late 1940s. The rough edges of the city’s former residents remain. Plucky year round residents face harsh winters of isolation.
Instead of a place to avoid, the city now attracts flocks of Northface and Helly Hansen clad wanderers. Wide-eyed and well-healed journey men and women crowd the many eateries along the port docks. High tourist season runs October to March during the southern summer. Hotels of every level of hospitality dot the front of the mountain range that plays host to the city.
The city sports a sizable international airport. With connections to major hubs like Buenos Aires, Rio, and many other key South American cities, getting there has become much more easier. Do be aware, the city sits smack dab between a cold and warm ocean. This causes turbulence on the water and in the air. The video below was taken on our flight. It was bumpy! There are a fleet of taxis that ferry folks from the airport to downtown or to lodging. We also used Uber, which was very affordable.
Getting There the Hard Way
As you begin to spend some time in Ushuaia you start to notice the abundance of long distance road bikes and converted VW and sprinter vans. Ushuaia is the southern terminus of the Great Pan-American Highway. Brave motorists begin north in Alaska and take the epic journey that crosses the equator and delivers them to the end of the road literally in Ushuaia.
Ushuaia is not a center of learning and art; nor is it a place of culture and refinement. It is a place of stories. Whether you are sitting in a pub or eating empanadas overlooking the bay, conversation is king. Skilled waitstaff speak the basics of dozens of languages. Spanish, English, and German seem to be the most common in our limited experience. There is a kaleidoscope of different backgrounds and nationalities.
During our visit, a Greenpeace frigate was docked at harbor, two oil tankers and a half a dozen expedition boats headed across the Drake Passage en route to Antarctica. This made for a wide array of viewpoints at dinner. This clash of ideas is what makes Ushuia magical. Pull up a chair and join the scrum!
Chile Border Crossing
There are numerous day trips you can take to see southern Patagonia. Ushuaia is the perfect launching point for these excursions. We will highlight one. A very special one. We took the Hito XXIV trail into Chile. It took us the morning to hike in and out. It was one of the best hikes I have ever done. The beauty of the alpine lake, and the waterfalls along the trail were stunning. If you are country collectors like us, this is an easy one to add to your collection with minimal effort. There is a lodge at the trailhead that has excellent cheesecake.
An Ode to Ushuaia
Few cities in this world have left an impression like Ushuaia. It is a unique place. It is a beautiful place. But most importantly, it has a soul that is made up of all those that congregate on her steps as they conclude or begin their journey of self discovery.
The city’s motto is: Ushuaia, end of the world, beginning of everything. I have found this to be true.
We often hear about our travels, ”what a trip of a lifetime”.
But this trip was different.
This one was special.
In a previous post, I shared how meaningful going to Antartica was because it was a lifetime goal set by a kid in rural Idaho. Back in high school, I (Mike) set the audacious goal to set foot on all seven continents and swim in the seven seas. I saved the hardest, most expensive, and most difficult one for last. This post is intended for two groups of people: 1) Those of you who are planning your trip there and 2) Those that chose not to go, but want to see some cool penguin pics. I do need to give a shout out to some of the bloggers who inspired and coached me on this adventure: Adventurous Kate and iAmAileen They give good advice, follow them.
This is the first of a few posts about my adventure.
What follows is the 10 simple (not really) steps to prep for
this grand adventure.
Step 1) Save up lots of money. I saved five years for this adventure (Birthdays, Christmas, Father’s Day, basically anytime I could con Luci into giving me money instead of a present for a holiday). Costs are below:
$7,800 per person Oceanwide double
cabin. Discovery and Learning Voyage (10 day, 9 nights). MV Hondius
$3,200 Delta Airlines (Delta comfort)
$700 Aerolineas Argentinas AEP to Ushuaia
$125 transfer between EZE and AEP
Step 2) Search the right cruise for you. There are two types of cruises to Antarctica, ones that let you land on the continent, and those that let you wave to the penguins as you sail by. Current international regulations limit the number of passengers that can be on a ship and make a landing. Big cruise ships are not welcome. You will need to board an “expedition ship” to make the crossing if you want terra firma. There are roughly a dozen different cruise lines that offer the trips. Prices range from $3,800 to $50,000.
Step 3) Timing is everything. Due to weather conditions, Drake Passage crossings can only be made in the months of October to March. The crossing is notoriously “bumpy”. Shoulder season prices are cheaper, with good reason. As the saying goes, “The Drake Shake or the Drake Lake”. We (my friend and I) were very lucky to get the latter. We made our trek in late December. Saving money by cutting corners on timing is not recommended.
Step 4) Packing and Prep. This trip was like none other. As we were staying in Buenos Aires for a couple days after our trip, we had to pack for two completely different seasons. It goes without saying that it is cold in Antarctica. A visit to the peninsula is unlikely to produces -40 versus Buenos Aires that is one hot town during summer.
It was cold and windy during our visit to #7. It is best to dress in layers, with a water and wind proof shell. You will need gloves, thick socks and a warm hat. I used Helly Hansen sailing gear and was glad I did. They specialize in clothing that keeps you warm and dry on the water. I highly recommend. and sunblock are also highly recommended to deal with the reflection of snow and ice. I didn’t wear sunblock and ended up sunburned. You will also need a swimsuit! Stay tuned on that! Most, if not all ships, provide footwear for visiting the continent. This is a function of preventing invasive plants and from being transported to this pristine environment.
A word or two about camera gear. I went with our Cannon DSLR with two lens (50 and a 250). Spend as much as you can afford on a lens. It will make all the difference. I kinda wish I would have gone with the longer lens. But most of my pictures I took using my iphone. Some of my best pics were on my phone. Crazy huh?
Step 5) Go see the doctor. I went to my local travel clinic to get all the seasickness meds money can buy. Read more on this step in our previous post. The Drugs of Antarctica.
Step 6) Board the plane! Our flight originated in my hometown of Boise, Idaho. I had layovers in Salt Lake City and Atlanta. Download those books and podcasts! The flight from Atlanta ATL to Buenos Aires EZE was roughly 10 hours. I took the overnight flight, which really helped with the jet lag.
Step 7) Transfer and board the other plane! Flights to the two major ports (Ushuaia and Puerto Arenas) that have ships going to Antarctica leave out of a different airport in Buenos Aires. The transfer takes roughly an hour, but can be up to 3 hours depending on traffic. Leave plenty of time for this transfer including getting through customs in EZE. We spent three hours in line to get through customs. Rumor is there was a strike that day, but I cannot confirm. Just follow my advice, leave plenty of time.
Step 8) Enjoy Ushuaia. Ushuaia is unlike any place I have ever been. It is nicknamed the “Fin Del Mundo” — The end of the world. You have an eclectic mix of folks there. Some just finished their trans north and south America journeys, there’s a bunch of trust fund millennials, or a herd of hard core travelers seeking to board the boat to get #7, while you also meet adventure junkies just seeking to explore. We were never short on conversation topics as we dined with others.
Go and take your picture by the Fin Del Mundo sign! This was particularly special to me as one of my good friends who ran the JourneyWoman blog, who has since passed away, posed at the same place. I miss her. She was an inspiration to so many. Evelyn Hannon is my hero. We wish Carolyn Ray well as she fills those shoes!
Step 9) The morning of departure, you must bring your luggage to your cruise company’s headquarters. Luggage must be loaded by the ship’s crew. You can board with your hand luggage, no problem. Don’t forget, you will need your passport as you go to board, don’t leave it in your luggage!
Step 10) Savor every second. Yes, this truly is a trip of a lifetime. The things you will see: the ice, the water, the animals and the terrain are unlike anything you will ever see again. The follow adventures are fascinating, the crew and expedition leaders are an intriguing bunch.
The final part of this is to take that first step up the
gangway to adventure.
For many Americans this is their one big, lifetime, bucket-listed dream destination. Being a US state, the language, transportation, currency and in some ways the culture is similar to the mainland. Plus, it’s relatively close: Hawaii is a mere 190 million inches away for Los Angeles. That math translates to a simple 6 hour flight to paradise. Recently Southwest Airlines announced that they will begin service to Honolulu. The starting price? $49 (one way, limited time, limited availably, plus taxes and fees-no way you are going this cheap). Regardless of the price, Southwest is doing something special for traveling couples. Alaska Airlines, as well as Delta Airlines, do get honorable mentions for affordable flights. In no uncertain terms, these airlines are placing the dream couple’s trip within your reach. It’s time to go to Hawaii!
Let’s work on your plan.
Having been to the Islands a number of times, we have posted a few
articles that may help. Step one is to
pick an Island(s). We took the challenge
to describe each island in three words or less:
Oahu: Crowded, Waikiki, Pearl Harbor
Maui: Trendy, Fun, Yum
Kauai: Beautiful, Beautiful, Beautiful
Molokai: Rustic, quiet, off the grid
Lanai: Golf, small, island life
Let’s start where most trips to the Island start: Oahu. Most of the flights from the mainland arrive at the Oahu airport. Most people are surprised as they circle on final approach at Honolulu. It is a large city. It’s Manhattan with a beach. There are four recommendations we have for you on Oahu: Waikiki, Pearl Harbor, Hanauma Bay and the Polynesian Cultural Center.
If you are looking to do a sunset heart-hands selfie, be prepared to share the frame with a few dozen fellow sun worshipers. Waikiki is crowded; there is no getting around it. It’s still very special. Major international resorts line the long golden beach. You will never be a stones through from a “watering hole” with umbrella drinks and other liquid libations. With the sun and sand, the recipe for Hawaiian romance is waiting for you. You can rent a surf board, take a catamaran sunset cruise, or plant yourself in the sand and listen to the surf.
Located a few miles, but light years away from the hustle and bustle of the city is Hanauma State Park (https://hanaumabaystatepark.com/). Here you can snorkel and see some amazing sea-life. The waters are shallow making snorkeling an absolute perfect adventure. The beach is very inviting and if you time your visit in the early morning and late afternoon, the crowds are not bad. You can rent all of your snorkeling equipment on sight. Parking is a bit of pain, but there is a tram that will take you down and back from the water. The waters are crystal clear; this place is not to be missed.
Polynesian Cultural Center
Our last stop in Oahu, is the Polynesian Cultural Center (https://www.polynesia.com/). This Disneyland-ish park highlights the many cultures and aspects of traditional Polynesian life. It is owned and operated by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to help young Polynesians earn money for higher education. Island cultures throughout the South Pacific are represented. You are able to stroll from village to village learning about dance, tools, culture and dress of these unique island people. It is all very tastefully done. The highlight is the evening show and luau. Reservations are highly recommended.
Perhaps our favorite island in the chain is Kauai. This island is made for lovers. It is called the garden Island for good reason. It is very lush and green. The entire island operates at a much slower pace. You can dive at the many reefs along the north and south shores, take a helicopter ride to waterfall spot, hike into a secret beach, play a round of golf, or do absolutely nothing sitting on the beach.
There are a dozen or so very nice resorts lining the
coast. We highly recommend a stay at the
Grand Hyatt Kauai. It is a paradise. Kauai
We strongly recommend using a virtual private network (VPN) when using the hotel’s free wifi – the last thing you want is for your banking info or credit card numbers to get stolen by hackers while you’re far away from home. This bestvpn.com/guides/what-is-vpn-beginners-guide/ has a pretty good breakdown of what VPNs do, if you’re not familiar.
We hope that this post helped you find the inspiration to book your couple’s trip to Hawaii. What are you waiting for? Aloha!
There are a lot of destinations that call themselves holy. With that said, few places can claim that three of the world’s major faiths call the place sacred. The land we speak of is Israel. We recently returned from a two week visit and want to give you the ultimate guide to seeing the sacred sites. This will be a two part post, with the first highlighting the religious sites of Israel, and the second will be about a side trip into Jordan. Both are must dos, and compliment each other well.
Ok. First off, let’s take on the biggest reservation we hear about visiting the region. “Is it safe?” The answer is yes and no. Will an AK-47 armed terrorist kidnap you and hold you for ransom? No. Will you run over a roadside bomb driving your rented Toyota down the freeway? No. Could you be pick pocketed in a busy street loaded with tourists? Yes. Could a valuable in your parked car be taken? Yes. If you wander into the wrong area late at night, might you meet some baddies? Perhaps.
Our advice to staying safe is simple. Be aware.
Be careful. And be kind. With these three simple guiding principles,
you are extremely unlikely to have any issues.
To Tour or Not to Tour
Ok, with that big one out of the way. Let’s take on the second big one. Do I need to go with a tour? To this we offer a resounding NO! Somehow, you found our blog. This leads us to believe that you are the type of person that can do a basic internet search. If you can do that, you can navigate Israel on your own. That simple. If you can read and speak basic English, you will have no challenges there.
A word of disclosure. This was Mike’s second visit to Israel. The first time he traveled with the American Jewish Committee as a part of a leadership exchange. This offered a uniquely Judeo-view of both the history and the spiritual perspectives. We are practicing members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon) and we traveled this time with another couple who are devout Roman Catholics. We will try out best to offer insights on all three of these perspectives. Regardless of your level of religiosity, you will find the history of the region compelling.
If you need some help packing, not forget the Fighting Couple Packing Guide.
Getting there/Tel Aviv
The major gateway in and out of the country is Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv. Tel Aviv is the secular capital of Israel; Jerusalem is of course the spiritual one. Many of the world’s leading airlines have regular flights there. The airport sits roughly 10 miles west of Tel Aviv. There are many shuttles back and forth. We highly recommend that you rent a car. All of the major rental car companies have representation there.
Once you arrive, depending on the timing, you may wish to overnight in Tel Aviv. Early arrivals will give you the leg up on getting to Jerusalem. The City of David is roughly an hour drive from Tel Aviv. It is all freeway, and could not be easier. If you are accustomed to driving on US or European freeways, you will be very comfortable.
We recommend doing a large circle route: starting in Tel Aviv and driving to Jerusalem. Use Jerusalem as a base to see the sights of the town and then take a day trip to the Dead sea and to Bethlehem. From there drive north to Nazareth and the Sea of Galilee. We then recommend driving out to the coastal town of Acre and following the freeway south along the Mediterranean back to Tel Aviv.
We took a total of 12 days in see Israel on the route listed
above, and saw Wadi Rum and Petra, Jordan.
The first thing you need to know about Jerusalem: there is the city, and then there is the old city, which is a city within a city. Most of the historic religious sites lie within the walls of the old city. Park your car for the time you are in Jerusalem. All sites can be seen by walking and public transport.
The Old City
The old city is divided into four sections: the Jewish Quarter, Muslim, Armenia and the Christian quarter. Armenia is represented, and has a long connection with the city, as they were the first country that officially named Christianity as the state religion. The entire old city is surrounded by a massive wall built in the early 16th Century by the Turkish Sultan Suleiman the Magnificent. There are seven gates into the city…ok we lied, there are really eight, but one is no longer in use…and there is an interesting story about that. (https://new.goisrael.com/article/252).
A great way to really get a feel for highpoints of the
Christen sites is to follow the Via Dolorosa.
This follows the path of Christ’s last moments. To those of the Catholic faith, each of these
stops will ring very familiar. https://www.dolr.org/stations-of-the-cross/jerusalem
The walk begins where Christ was condemned to die, walking to where he sees his mother and where Simon takes up the cross for the Savior, and ends at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. The path is mostly cobblestones and pavement. You will definitely want good walking shoes. There are plenty of places to stop along the path for water or refreshment.
The Church of the Holy Sepulchure
The last four stations of the Via Dolorosa are contained in the church. It is massive. Here you will see the slab of rock that Christ was placed after his crucifixion. Many other sites were identified by St. Helena. Constantine the Great converted to Christianity in 312AD. Shortly thereafter, he dispatched his mother, Helena to the region to begin the process of identifying where the stories of the Bible took place. By inspiration, advice, and some other more interesting methods, she was able to key in on were everything happened. On her direction, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was constructed on the site of an old pagan temple. It has expanded and changed over the centuries since. A mixture of crusades, Muslim protection, earthquakes, and internal architectural disputes have led this building to be one of the most interesting and disputed structures ever built. One of more intriguing stories is the “immoveable ladder.” https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Immovable_Ladder
Today it is the home of six Christian orders with each sect battling an internal turf war within the building for control and real estate. Often these disputes turn to fisticuffs. Make sure and read the Wikipedia profile of the Church. Very helpful: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Church_of_the_Holy_Sepulchre If you wish, a number of parishioners call be “locked” into the church overnight.
To those of the LDS faith and others, visiting this site can be a bit overwhelming. While held in reverence by so many sects, the crowded, smoke filled church is constantly loud, contentious, gaudy and combined with forceful docents, we found it difficult to make a strong spiritual connection to Christ while inside the church. Luci got yelled at while trying to go inside the tomb by a demanding priest who wanted people to hurry and our friends got kicked out of mass even though they are Catholic. However, we should note that we were befriended by an Armenian priest, who blessed us with holy oil and that was the highlight of the visit to the church.
One of the biggest challenges for us as Latter-day Saints and others is the desire to stand, or be near the exact spot “where it happened.” Few places exist today were one can say with sureness that “this is the place,” where the Savior stood. Yes, you are within hundreds of feet of where these events took place, but exactness is hard to come by. In addition, the real stones the Savior would have walked are typically 80 to 100 feet below you as the city has been conquered and rebuilt. In the end, we learned that it’s ok to be “ok” with this. As the “Fighting Couple” always says… “make sure you are fighting for the right things.”
The Garden of Gethsemane
Across the valley from the old city is the Garden of Gethsemane. The word Gethsemane translated means “oil press.” It is here that tradition holds that Christ prayed, as his disciples slept the night, before his crucifixion. Today the Church of All Nations is on the site. The ceiling is a stunning blue and décor is incredible.
We felt a strong connection to Christ in this area. It was less crowded, and being among the 2000+ year old olive trees really lends to quiet refection on the Atonement. We also bought small bottles of olive oil here.
The Garden Tomb
One of the most peaceful places we have found in Jerusalem is the Garden Tomb. Many Protestant groups claim this as the tomb of Christ. It is located just outside the Damascus Gate. Those of the LDS faith will immediately recognize this setting. Pictures of the Garden tomb appear in many versions of the standard works. It was unearthed in the mid 1850s. It is surrounded by a peaceful garden and is an ideal setting to contemplate.
Many claim John’s comment, “Now in the place where he
was crucified there was a garden; and in the garden a new sepulchre, wherein
was never man yet laid.” KJV (John 19:41) to be evidence of the correct
location. Again, it is nearly impossible
to pinpoint the exact location of the Tomb.
Perhaps the most sacred spot for Jews is the remnant of the temple wall. Jews come from all around the world to pray, and worship at the foot of what would have been the temple. Especially at the close of Shabbat, or sabbath the place is filled with songs, prayers and rejoicing. The Western Wall is separated into a men’s and women’s side. Jew and Gentile must cover their heads as they approach the wall. You can also write prayers and stuff them into one of the cracks in the wall.
The Dome of the Rock
The most recognizable structure in all of Israel is the beautiful Dome of the Rock. It is one of the most sacred houses of worship for Muslims. Its beautiful blue octagon walls and golden dome rival any temple we have seen. The location is believed by Jews to be the place were Adam was created. It is also believed to be the location where the Old Testament prophet Abraham attempted to sacrifice his son Issac. This is also believed to be the place where the Prophet Muhammad ascended to heaven. While you cannot enter the mosque as a non-believer, you can enjoy the peacefulness and beauty of this site.
BYU JerusalemLocated on the Mount of Olives is the Brigham Young University Jerusalem Center for Near Eastern Studies. The center is a satellite campus of Brigham Young University, one of the largest religious universities in the world. A few hundred students reside at the center for a semester. The center is open for tours and often offers free concerts from their concert hall overlooking the old city. It is a view not to be missed. The LDS Church leases the property, thus it is difficult to know how long the center will remain in its current location.
Dead Sea and Masada National Park
One of the side trips we highly recommend is a three hour drive south east to the Dead Sea. Swimming in the Dead Sea is a once in a lifetime opportunity. There is nothing like it. You will float no matter how hard you try not too! The water feels slick like a truck load of essential oils were dumped in it. To get the most of the experience, cover yourself in mud, let it bake, and swim in the sea to dissolve it. Your skin will feel like you just left a five star spa. There are a number of public beaches that have changing facilities and you can buy mud at local stores.
Looking down on the Dead Sea is the might fortress of Masada. Once a last refuge from the Romans, Masada is a collection of ruins atop a lofty plateau that can be accessed by a strenuous hike or a comfortable tram. This is an important and moving place for Jews. It symbolized the rebellion against Roman invaders and a last desperate act against domination. It is both a spiritual and patriotic place for Jews. For Americans it would be like combining Valley Forge and the National Cathedral. The views of the area are worth the price of admission. A couple hours is really adequate in our eyes to see the area. Check out the museum which has the actual rocks or lots where the men of Masada wrote their names as too who would be killed next.
The birthplace of Christ is a must see during your visit. Bethlehem is located 5 miles south of Jerusalem. The city is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. It has a very different vibe than what you have been experiencing in Jerusalem. The Church of the Nativity is being remodeled at the time of this writing. In the grotto you can visit what is believed to the be manager where Christ was born. Take a public bus to get there from outside the Old City. We suggest bus #21. It’s safe and easy. It will drop you off a ten minute walk to the Church of the Nativity. Taxi cabs in Jerusalem will try to swindle you by charging $200 to $500 to take you to the Church.
While there is not a definitive spot where tradition holds the Savior was baptized, the Jordan River holds a special place in the Christian tradition. Just south of the Sea of Galilee, in a wide spot in river, is a commercial baptism center. Here patrons can be baptized. It felt a bit like the baptism scene in “Oh Brother, Where Art Thou.” There is a changing station if you want to pay to get baptized and a sizable gift shop. You can put your feet in the water without paying, but swimming is discouraged.
Capernaum and the Mt. of Beatitudes
On the north shore of the Sea of Galilee are the ruins of the City of Capernaum. During Christ’s ministry, he spent a great deal of time here. It is here that he met Peter and a number of his other apostles including Andrew, James, and John. He taught, lived, and worshiped here. We learn of many healings that took place in the city:
Mark 2:1-5 And again he entered into Capernaum after some
days; and it was noised that he was in the house.
2 And straightway many were gathered together, insomuch that
there was no room to receive them, no, not so much as about the door: and he
preached the word unto them.
3 And they come unto him, bringing one sick of the palsy,
which was borne of four.
4 And when they could not come nigh unto him for the press,
they uncovered the roof where he was: and when they had broken it up, they let
down the bed wherein the sick of the palsy lay.
5 When Jesus saw their faith, he said unto the sick of the
palsy, Son, thy sins be forgiven thee.
Today you can walk around the ruins of the city and there are a number of alcoves and areas you can stop for reflection. In the center is the octagonal church. It is here were Catholic tradition holds that an invalid was lowed through the roof and was healed by Christ. One of the highlights for us is as you walk in through the front gates, there is a statue of Christ on a park bench. It almost looks like it is a vagrant taking a nap. It is only after you see the nail prints in his hands and feet to you realize who the person is. It is very impressive.
Just above Capernaum is where tradition holds that the Savior would have given the Sermon on the Mount. With its lofty view of the Sea of Galilee, it is perhaps one of the best views in the Holy Land. A peaceful and reflective spot!
Nazareth is the town that Jesus was raised. Here you will find the Basilica of the Annunciation. This is by far, one of our favorite churches in the Holy Land. It was built to feel like it was made of wood. There are many stunning stained glass windows throughout. The theme of this church is the figure of Mary. There are many colorful pieces of artwork, done by artists around the globe that surround the outer courtyard and the inner basilica.
According to Catholic tradition, this is the spot where
Mary’s childhood home would have stood.
The current church there was built in 1969, on the top of an earlier
Crusader era church. It has been
classified as a minor basilica. Mass is
celebrated there in multiple languages.
On the way back
You have hit the major religious sites if you have followed our plan above. Now how about some sun, sand and surf? Head east till you need a boat. The Mediterranean Sea is a beautiful and warm reward for tired bodies. We spent some time in the Medieval city of Acre. Very interesting history and architecture. We highly recommend spending a day or two unwinding before you head back to busy Tel Aviv.
To see more pictures for this amazing place please visit our Facebook and instagram pages:
Friendship Day is Aug. 6th! What could be better than having your spouse as your best friend in the world? Your friend is someone you share secrets with, practice your favorite hobbies with, and have the perfect night out with. So, why should your best friend also be your mate? Some traditionalists say you can’t be friends with your husband the way you would with a female friend, but this couldn’t be the truth. Being best friends with your spouse isn’t a process that happens overnight, but it is always worth doing. Here are 9 tips on making your spouse your best friend.
Have Fun Together
This seems like a bit of a ‘duh!’ suggestion, but to make your spouse your best friend, you need to learn how to have fun together.
Put away the cares of the day and shelve talks about babies, bookkeeping, and bills and look forward to quality time spent doing something you both love. This could mean sitting down with snacks and a movie, going to the beach, horse riding, fishing or doing yoga, drinking at a pub, doing bad karaoke or sharing your favorite activities together. Whatever makes you laugh and fulfills your soul, make sure you do it together!
Love Despite Imperfections
Nobody’s perfect. This is a phrase that becomes truer the longer you are in a relationship together! Things aren’t always going to be rainbows and sunshine, but that doesn’t mean you should show any less love. Show your partner your care for them by always giving a kind word, being a shoulder to cry on, loving them for their weaknesses and showing praise for their positive qualities.
Keep things Private
A good friend wouldn’t talk about their friends behind their backs, so neither should you with your spouse! This means not complaining to friends and family about your mate’s shortcomings or expressing the ways in which you wish they were different. Be your spouse’s biggest cheerleader. This also means not sharing private details of your relationship or telling secrets about your partner to anyone else.
Get Excited about Things
One thing both sexes respond to from their partner is excitement. When you get excited for something your mate enjoys, such as his favorite sport or her favorite band, it makes them feel closer to you. So when she starts talking about a social justice issue, a new movie releasing that she wants to see, or her latest Pinterest board don’t just nod and smile politely. Get excited! Even if these things don’t particularly excite you, showing her that you’re excited for her will let her know you care.
Be Supportive and Uplifting
Good friends lift one another up. When your spouse is feeling down and out, strive to cheer them up with commendation that is genuine and refreshing. Don’t be a nag. Be quick to remind your partner of their good qualities and tell them the reasons that you love them. Giving praise and showing kindness to one another is exactly what best friends do when their BFF is feeling low.
Put your Mate First
Best friends make time for one another at the drop of a hat. If she needs you, you’re there! If he’s in a bind, he knows who to call. So it should be with your spouse too. Put your mate first. This means never cancelling plans with your mate just because another offer came along. Show interest in their interests, make time to be together, display trust and loyalty, and keeping the doors of communication open about any subject under the sun from the funniest dream you ever had to the stresses of your new job.
Best friends know when to let it go and so should you. Strengthen your friendship and romantic relationship by learning to let go. As stated, nobody is perfect and there are going to be times where one of you hurts the other one. You may forget an anniversary or say something out of line.
Practice learning to forgive and let go. Not only does this mean learning to forgive one another’s shortcomings, it means learning to move on from the small things. If your wife forgot to charge her phone and you couldn’t get a hold of her, do you really need to lecture her about it? Or if the husband wants to spend some time with his brother instead of you after a long day at work, is it worth starting a fight over? The next time you are about to get upset with your mate ask yourself: Is this still going to be important to me tomorrow? If the answer is no, leave it.
Show your Spouse You Care
Have you ever had that moment when you’re feeling pretty ‘blah’ and then your best friend comes around and does something that reminds you how special you are to them? It felt like they showed up at just the right time. This is what your spouse should think of you. Showing your spouse you care about them couldn’t be easier. Something as small as a surprise gift, a special breakfast, a hug out of nowhere, or a sweet midday text can make your spouse feel amazing.
Relationships flourish when there is mutual respect. Give your spouse the same respect you would give your best friend. This means letting them speak, really listening when they talk, not being judgmental about their thoughts and decisions, never speaking badly about them, and never using a condescending tone. Be helpful to your mate, say please and thank you, congratulate them when they’ve done well, and always live up to your word.
Friendship day is a great time to make your spouse your best friend and learn to enjoy one another as friends and as lovers. Taking the time to forge this bond will deepen your connection and give you the best friend you always wanted to have.
Author Bio:- Rachel Pace is a relationship expert with years of experience in training and helping couples. She has helped countless individuals and organizations around the world, offering effective and efficient solutions for healthy and successful relationships. Her mission is to provide inspiration, support and empowerment to everyone on their journey to a great marriage. She is a featured writer for Marriage.com, a reliable resource to support healthy happy marriages.
Exciting news! The Fighting Couple have been invited to be presenters at the upcoming Better Marriages Conference in St. Louis, MO on July 9-11th, 2015. If you live in the mid-west and your relationship could use a tune up. (Who doesn’t?) We invite you to join us!
The conference is being put on by BetterMarriages.org. Their mission is to promote better marriages by providing enrichment opportunities and resources to strengthen couples. They have regional events throughout the year that promote vibrant relationships. Once a year the organization holds their Annual Marriage Conference, inviting couples from across the country to participate in helpful workshops to improve their relationship.
So what will the Fighting Couple be sharing? Sorry, It’s top secret. Let’s just say it is going to include a lot of laughs, a few wild and crazy stories from the road, a dash of couple advice, and a lot of fighting.
Are you thinking of attending? Need more info? Check out their website: Conference Info
This will be our first visit to the gateway city. We are beyond excited to discover what this wonderful city has to offer. Any locals have any tips/recommendations/good BBQ joints? Send us a note!
They welcome the world’s travelers and then travel the world themselves: Meet the Traveling Innkeepers: Dan and Becky.
Dan and Becky are the proud owners of Prince Edward Island’s cozy Kindred Spirit Inn. 1000Fights has already previewed the Inn’s amazing culinary breakfast, now we’d like to introduce you to the owners of this comfortable and Anne-like property. With a name like Kindred Spirits, you imagine just how friendly the Inn really is! The Fighting Couple instantly felt a kindred spirit with Dan and Becky. They are the younger, more successful and attractive version of Mike and Luci!
Dan and Becky visiting Cordoba, Spain
Dan and Becky are true Islanders who both grew up on Prince Edward Island. Dan’s grew up at Kindred Spirits after his parents ditched their desk jobs and bought the property and remodeled it. Cavendish, PEI, the home of Lucy Maud Montgomery’s famous novel Anne of Green Gables, is visited by thousands of people a year.
Dan’s family lived in the Inn, but when tourist season hit from May to October, he moved out and his room became someone else’s! “I grew up with people from all over the world. I was constantly exposed to new people and new ideas.”
Growing up in PEI is a kid’s dream. It’s as idyllic as Anne describes it. “My range was only limited by geography. I could go to the beach myself and bike as far as I wanted; I just had to be back for supper — that was the rule,” Dan reminisces.
Becky and Dan married and bought the property from Dan’s folks. Becky has a knack for organization and started working at Kindred Spirits when she was in high school. Running the Inn, is a 24 hour, 7 day a week job. And when something needs to be done, Dan and Becky fill in for every role of their 20 employees from security to house keeper, to cook to maintenance man.
But when the tourists leave, Dan and Becky do too. They take the winter and spring to tour the world.
No matter where they have traveled and they have traveled all over: New Zealand, Argentina, Thailand, Costa Rica, just to name a few, people make the difference. From the time a stranger helped them through the chaos of 100 people yelling and screaming in the Panama Airport or to the hotel clerk who helped Dan find his wallet that he left in a cab in Krabi, Thailand, the kindness of others when Dan and Becky travel, make them committed to ensuring that those who stay at Kindred Spirits have an impeccable experience.
The Traveling Innkeepers in Chaing Mail, Thailand
“Service is never inauthentic,” says Dan. “Everyone who comes to visit PEI is on their vacation and 99 percent of them are having the best days of the year. That’s what makes our jobs great. If you are a lawyer or an accountant, you are dealing with people on their worst days of the year.”
“The tourists are the best part of the job. We meet our guests as they come through the door,” Becky added. “Our job isn’t to be right; our job is to make guests feel comfortable.”
They are so committed to making things as gracious as can be at Kindred Spirits, that Becky keeps a travel notebook when they travel to record the “Wow” moments to help replicate them at Prince Edward Island. Like the time, they were in Argentina and they stayed at a place that invited them to sit and have coffee. “The act of sitting and sharing coffee was very meaningful. They walked us to our room. It was different from being checked in behind a cold, sterile, desk,” Becky explained.
We personally experienced this with the Inn’s cookies and tea service in the evening. In fact, when we arrived there was an entire list of social activities that guests could do to mingle with other guests and the staff.
Being in the travel business has also made Dan and Becky more critical of what they see on the road. “We are ruined,” Becky says about going to other hotels to stay. “We can’t walk into a property without seeing what’s wrong and what’s right. It’s certainly allowed us to relate.”
Better yet, the two are also fighters! One of their highlights: they didn’t realize they needed a Visa to get to Vietnam. “And that was the time we almost went to Vietnam,” Becky laughs. They didn’t have their Visa so when they got to the airport and the ticket agent asked to see it; they had to change their plans immediately! It’s a 1000 Fight Nightmare! The story did end well, they ended up going to Malaysia instead!
Want to learn more about Kindred Spirits? Check our recent post!
One of the many precautions we take in our travels is getting the proper immunizations. Before our Amazon trek, we went in to our local medical clinic and said, give us everything you’ve got! We felt like human pin cushions! Those pesky shots, while painful in the short term prepared our bodies to reject the attack of those pesky yellow fever things. But no immunization or medication can protected someone from an unrealized expectation. We have found this out the hard way.
Perception is Reality?
We just returned from a two week trip to Asia, visiting both Thailand and Cambodia. I had lived in Taiwan for a couple of years in college, this was Luci’s first visit to the Orient. It was so intriguing to watch her experience a new culture, and dispel and confirm some of her preconceptions. She thought that the food would be spicy, and it was! In other areas she discovered that she was completely off base. Each new place we visit we arrive with the rose colored glasses of glossy guidebooks. (That’s one reason we love the travel blogging community, for its candid un-gussied up descriptions.) As travelers, we tend to be loaded with pre-conceptions. These notions rarely hit the mark.
Just like travel, we build in our minds some times unrealistic expectations from our marriages/ relationships. We think things should be a certain way. Simply because…that’s the way things happen in the movies or on TV. Why would we want to model a relationship after a fictional portrayal? #epicfail ! (I just used a hashtag as a complete sentence! Cross that off the bucket list!) Our culture, our environment push us to envision and quite frankly expect the ideal. Look no further than Pinterest to see well-meaning people create a palette of perfection. The never ending quest for the perfect wedding centerpiece. Then there’s the dress! All of this leads us to create in our mind an expectation, typically unrealistic and unattainable.
Is that really healthy?
How to overcome?
Some of the best advice we have ever received was offered by Javier, our young Peruvian guide in the Amazon Jungle. Before embarking on our night safari in the Jungle he counseled us, “don’t set your heart on seeing any one animal or insect..just enjoy what you find in the jungle.” Wise words for sure. We have often reflected on this advice. Enjoy the ride. Don’t say..i want this, that and the other or the experience is an abject failure. Don’t do that to yourself. Enjoy the journey for what it is. Leave your expectations at the lodge of life and open your heart to the experience.
Finding the perfect in the one you love
Come up with your own perfect. One thing that we have discovered in 15 years of marriage and 25 some years of friendship is that neither one of is perfect. We likely know each other’s flaws and quirks better than anyone else in the galaxy. For a relationship to thrive, we can’t expect our lover to be a combo of every perfect character we have read about in Jane Austen novels. Likewise, it is completely unrealistic and a little dangerous to expect our sweetheart to look like a supermodel 24/7. It is up to us to find the best in those we love, especially our significant other.
How do you overcome your preconceptions? What are your secrets to rejecting the pressure for perfection? Let us know in the comments below.