Visiting Ein Hod and Acre

After a day of touring around Ramat Hanadiv and Caesarea, Noah and I went for a morning run around Zicharon Yaakov. Initially, we thought we would just run around through the pedestrian areas and maybe look for a park, but THEN we discovered something very exciting (in particular to Noah):

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Unbeknownst to us, Zicharon Yaakov has an artillery corps museum (called Beit Hatothan) surrounded by an outdoor area featuring a memorial monument and a couple dozen tanks and military vehicles. The museum was closed (and we were in the middle of a run…), but we looked around at the tanks and such:

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You could even go inside some of them!

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After the run and a quick breakfast at the Purple House, we drove to the nearby hilltop village of Ein Hod. Ein Hod is an artist’s village with winding streets, tons of galleries, and it is nestled within a forest of JNF trees:

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Walking through the village, many of the streets were dotted with sculptures and public artwork:

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We enjoyed wandering around and following signs to various galleries throughout the town:

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After a leisurely morning in Ein Hod (which ended with a run to the car during torrential downpour!), we drove to Acre (pronounced and sometimes spelled, Akko). Acre is located in the Israeli northern coastal plain, and it’s an area that has served an important historical purpose throughout time, providing a coastal link to the central Middle East. For a time, it was the headquarters of Crusader knights, and much of the area’s current attractions/focus is on that time period. Before exploring the fortress and knight’s hall in the area, we paused in the town’s busy market for a delicious lunch of kebab and salatim:

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After being revitalized by lunch, we toured the Crusader’s fortress – it’s still an incredible (and slightly terrifying!) compound after all these years:

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The exploration of the fortress was followed by a return to the busy market for a more thorough exploration:

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Our walk ended at the port that made this area such an important strategic location:

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After leaving Acre, we took one final drive of the day to the Shavit Guest House at the base of Mt. Arbel where we stayed for the next two nights. The Shavit Guest House is a small, family-run lodge/restaurant. The family was extremely nice and welcoming, and they were also eager to offer help and suggestions when planning activities. We arrived to the guest house just as the sun was setting, so Paul worked on taking some nice photographs with his fancy new camera…

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…and I found a friend:

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Other posts about visiting with Noah’s parents:

Zichron Yaakov – visiting Ramat Hanadiv gardens and Caesarea
Exploring in the north and Hamat Gader spa and hot springs

Visiting the Van Gogh Museum, Rijksmuseum and Keukenhof Gardens

After a long travel day on the first day of vacation, the first full day in Amsterdam was very busy! After breakfast, we headed to the Van Gogh Museum for a 9:00am entrance. Many of the museums in Amsterdam are very popular and can get some pretty incredible lines so, when possible, it’s definitely a good idea to buy advance tickets. With our 9am advance tickets, we walked right into the Van Gogh Museum.

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The museum offered an audio guide that was probably one of the best audio guides I’ve used. Usually, I feel like audio guides have way, way, WAY too much information and it would take hours to go through everything. Also, the descriptions can often be so long it’s hard to stay interested for the entire recording. The Van Gogh Museum, however, offered several options on their audio guide, including a 40-minute highlight tour through the museum’s three floors which was perfect:

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The museum, in combination with the audio guide, gave a very interesting overview of Van Gogh’s work and life (which was very tragic). This location was one of the trip highlights:

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After the Van Gogh museum, we headed to the Rijksmuseum (the Dutch National Museum) which was basically right next door. We also had advance tickets to the Rijksmuseum, so we fortunately could breeze past the line.

The Rijksmuseum is in an incredible building built in the 1880s:

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The inside foyer was no less impressive:

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This museum was huge – it would have taken all day to see everything! We focused on looking at the Rembrandt works, instruments, doll houses, town houses (furniture and art), and some ship models. By the end of the visit, I was in desperate need of some energy and rejuvenation.

Lunch at the nearby cafe, Panini did the trick. Noah and I shared a panini with peas/tomatoes and a mozzarella salad:

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After lunch, we hit up one more museum: Huis Marseille.

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This museum is comparatively small and entirely devoted to photography. My impression was that the quality of any given visit would depend a lot on what exhibits were showing. My favorite exhibit during our visit was a collection of photos from North Korea – fascinating!

Afterwards, we took a trip out of the city to visit Keukenhof Gardens. Getting to Keukenhof required about an hour of transit using a train and bus:

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The weather was still a bit dreary when we arrived to the gardens…

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But some beautiful tulips were still on full display:

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Goofin’ around…

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Keukenhof is the largest flower garden in the world, and it’s only open for a couple months of the year. We were lucky enough to be here just after they opened to the public. Unfortunately, this meant that a lot of the flowers weren’t yet in bloom…

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Nonetheless, there were some indoor areas that had quite impressive flower displays, and the outside flower areas were still fun to walk around even without an overabundance of flowers:

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Returning to the city after the gardens was fairly uneventful, but by the time we were searching for a place to have dinner I was very hungry! Eventually we decided to go to the Pancake Bakery – a restaurant recommended by our guide book and serving the Dutch delicacy, pancakes. 🙂

We shared a pancake with goat cheese/sun-dried tomatoes/honey and a veggie/cheese pancake:

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For dessert, we had some traditional Dutch desserts (when in Rome Amsterdam, right?): appelgebak (chunky apple and cinnamon pie) and stroopwafel (two thin wafers sandwiched together with a light syrup).

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Check back soon for a recap of a canal cruise and other activities during the second day!

 

Other Amsterdam Posts

Travel day and hotel
Canal Cruise, Museum of the Canals, and the Old Jewish Quarter
Anne Frank House, Amsterdam City Museum, and Oude Kerk
Day trip to Rotterdam, architecture tour

Tzfat and Mt. Bental

Tzfat is a town in the Galilee region, known for its spiritual vibe, artsy aesthetics, and ‘airy’ feel. My family stopped by Tzfat for a few hours on our way north, walking around to get a sense of the town and grabbing a bite to eat. The town itself is full of narrow, windy cobblestone streets that lead past old synagogues, art shops, and eateries:

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The ubiquity of art is definitely the most unique quality of Tzfat. In addition to an abundance of art shops and vendors, the streets themselves are covered with art. Tzfat is also one of the few places in Israel outside of Jerusalem where religiosity is visibly expressed at every corner. Literally.

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This is a picture seen painted on a wall along the street depicting ‘The Torah Kid’ as a superhero:

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Besides walking around, we visited Abuhav Synagogue – a Sephardic synagogue in which a Torah written by Abuhav, a 14th-century Spanish scribe, resides. The synagogue is fairly simple from the outside, but the interior is colorful and beautifully decorated:

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One of the highlights of visiting Tzfat was a trip to a store called Tzfat Candles. True to the spirit of Tzfat, this is much more than your average candle shop. It is candle art.

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You can buy candles in the shape of pretty much anything you can think of (besides all the fancy stuff, they also sell beautifully colored ‘regular’ candles). In addition to the variety of candles for sale, there was some pretty magnificent Biblical candle art on display. Highlights included David and Goliath:

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Noah’s ark:

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And Samson:

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I don’t know about you, but I would sure feel bad lighting any of these on fire! Noah and I bought a havdallah candle at the store and used it for the first time last week! It was awesome. 🙂

And, just for giggles, a misspelled sign advertising the popular Tzfat cheese (a semi-hard, somewhat elastic, cheese popular in Israel):

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After Tzfat, we continued north to Mt. Bental. Mt. Bental is a volcanic cone in the northern part of Israel, near the Golan heights, and very close to the Syrian border. Due to its positioning near Syria, the location used to be a military outpost. Looking out from Mt. Bental, one can see, to one side, into the demilitarized zone between Israel and Syria and across into Syria itself. To the other side lies the Israeli Kibbutz Merom Golan. When we arrived at the site, we saw a UN vehicle parked in the lot (these vehicles are also commonly sighted in Jerusalem):

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Noah investigating a view as we walk to the main lookout:

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This sign highlighted Mt. Bental’s unique location and proximity to several significant cities:

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At the lookout, we could walk through the former military trenches and tunnels:

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View looking out towards Syria:

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Check back soon for a final post recounting my family’s visit and our stop in Tiberias!

Cinematheque

The Jerusalem Cinematheque is a movie theater and arts venue just a few minutes walk west of the Old City walls.

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Last week, Noah and I went to the Cinematheque to see an origami exhibit as part of Jerusalem’s week long Japanese festival.

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The exhibit has some pretty amazing origami figures:

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For the event, they were also handing out free samples of sake and ‘origami-ed’ vegetables:

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While at the Cinematheque for the origami exhibit, we bought tickets for the following week to see the movie Boyhood. When we returned a few days ago for the movie, we got there a little early to get drinks at the small food kiosk at the theater:

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WARNING: you can’t bring food and beverage into the theater, so if you get a snack or drink, make sure to leave plenty of time to finish before the movie starts!

The theater itself was clean and comfortable…although the chairs were a little step down from the couch-like chairs at fancy theaters I’ve been to in the U.S!

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The movie was in English with Hebrew subtitles. Boyhood is a really unique movie. It was filmed over a period of 12 years, using the same actors to depict a family growing and changing over time. The main character, Mason, starts the movie as a six year old, and the movie ends when he is 18 and just starting college. Despite having been filmed in segments over a number of years, the flow of the movie worked great, and the transitions between each time period felt totally natural. The main themes of the movie dealt with social conditioning, personal connection and relationships, and how beauty and love can exist even in times of hardship. I thought the film was incredibly realistic and touching, and I’ve continued to think about it over the last couple days since seeing it…definitely a sign of a good movie! I would definitely recommend going to see it if you have the chance! I’m glad the Cinematheque offers films in English, and I definitely hope to go to more movies there over the course of the year.

Aquatennial 2013

The Aquatennial is a 10-day annual festival in Minneapolis. It’s a civic celebration of the city. What is a civic celebration? As far as I can tell, it’s basically a celebration of anything and everything the city has to offer: museums, arts, outdoors, etc. The celebration includes everything from sandcastle-building competitions to 5ks to smoothie sampling events. The official kick-off of the event is the Torchlight Parade – a two hour extravaganza along Hennepin Avenue downtown.

Noah and I went to check out the fun. The parade started at 8:30pm when it was still light outside:

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There were a lot of city floats with various ‘royalty.’ Several organizations, bands, and civic groups also made an appearance:

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I don’t have a picture, but Mayor Rybak was there and I saw him get funky with it with a staff member from Total Entertainment. The parade really started to  pick up once it got dark and a fire truck came through spewing flames:

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We saw the MN Roller Girls and Snoopy:

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Minneapolis got one-stream recycling over the past year – woohoo!

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If I were a MN princess, I would want to live on this float:

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Overall, the parade was really fun and it was awesome to see so many people out on the streets in support of a Minneapolis celebration.

Besides the parade, we went to one other Aquatennial-related event. The Bakken Museum – a museum all about electricity! – offered free admission on one of the days, focusing particularly on the connection between art and science.IMG_2088 IMG_2087 IMG_2085

The museum is located right by Lake Calhoun, and it seemed like a great family destination (but we weren’t too old to enjoy it!).

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The museum is located within a beautiful old house:

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And almost all of the exhibits are interactive. Look at these kissing dogs – drawn together through magnetism.

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As part of the aquatennial, there were a few special activities that linked art with science. Like this battery-powered Scribblebot:

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oooh. aaah.

Even though I only participated in two Aquatennial events this year, it could definitely keep you busy for the full ten days. It’s a great community event, and definitely a symbol of how Minneapolis cares about the civic life of its citizens. But, you don’t need to convince me – the Minneapple already has my heart. 🙂

How to make a funny brush

In art class this week we made funny brushes. “What’s a funny brush,” you say? Watch and learn, my friends.

First, gather a bunch of rubber bands:

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Wrap them around your fingers:

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Wrap one of the rubber bands at the end around the whole bunch so they are all tied together:

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Use scissors to snip off the tips at one end:

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Expert tip: do this step over a garbage can or you will have a big mess to clean up!

Your funny brush can now be used to add texture to a wide variety of paintings. Possible objects to use a funny brush on: grass, sunflowers, clouds, textured fabric, fur…the options are endless!

go crazy, artists!!

Mini-Golf…it’s an art

If you have any knowledge of Minneapolis icons, you are probably familiar with the cherry on the spoon sculpture.

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This beauty is located at the Walker Sculpture Garden – a must see destination for anyone living in or visiting Minneapolis! The outdoor garden is full of interesting sculptures, green lusciousness, and – best of all – it’s always FREE. This summer, there is an exciting addition to the general sculpture garden attractions: artist designed mini-golf.

If you like:

1. art
2. mini-golf
3. unique community events
4. having fun in general

Then THIS is the event for you. Open 7-days a week until September 8, this installation has two 8-hole mini-golf courses, and each hole is designed by a different artist.

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The various holes are a mix of traditional and untraditional mini-golfing. For example, if you use this gnome to help you get your ball in the hole, it doesn’t count towards your stroke count:

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One hole plays with the idea of ‘mini’ golf and makes the putter walk into a giant golf ball, only to be immediately turned into a giant themselves, overlooking the Walker and sculpture garden

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Another favorite required you to steer the ball through a series of holes to try to get the most points:

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All of the holes were interesting to look at and included an additional artistic layer beyond what met the eye:

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We only golfed one of the 8-hole courses and definitely plan to return before the end of the summer for the other course!