Asia, Countries, Deals, Europe, UK

Israeli clear of Covid regs

And it’s what they promised in the Promised Land – yes Israeli clear of Covid regs now.

Our friends in the Land of Milk and Honey will be removing on-arrival PCR tests from May 20 and letting people fly with an antigen test from May 10.

Right, we know that it hasn’t been a biblical 40 years since Israel was this open rather than just these last two years.

But it’s just made us more impatient, and that goes too for our dream makers too, our travel providers, who are lining up all manner of packages for us.

Lots of fun at the YMCA

Garden of plenty: The YMCA 3 Arches

Now our eye fell on the YMCA 3 Arches particularly when we saw that it had been designed by the architect of the Empire State Building in New York.

And that means tall with the 3 Arches a 152ft tower with views of the YMCA gardens below and historic Jerusalem vistas, many with views of the King David Street.

Not forgetting of course those modern day facilities we all expect… sports center with fitness room, pool, sauna, jacuzzi and group exercise studio.

The tour providers

Cradle of Christianity: Jesus and Bethlehem

Travel Israel helpfully do all the work for us offering flights from Edinburgh to Tel Aviv (you can also go from Glasgow and London Heathrow) and accommodation for £1,255.

With the excellent SWISS International Airlines.

And they list out a number of excursions you can add on.

Like Christmas (well, this is the Holy Land) you can go mad ticking off the trips you want.

And the excursions

Snap to it: And photograph the Old City

The Jerusalem Day Tour we imagine does what it says on the tin, and at a competitive £63 for two.

You will drive to the Mount of Olives for a panoramic view of the city.

And stop at Mount Zion to visit King David’s Tomb,Room of Last Supper and the Dormition Abbey.

No visit to Jerusalem would be complete without a visit to the Jewish Wailing Wall.

And channel your inner Jesus at the Via Dolorosa and visit the Church of Holy Sepulchre.

Before you’ll then proceed to the New City and a visit to Yad Vashem, the Memorial to the Holocaust.

But seeing you’re here you really should tick off as much as you can.

Two unforgettable days

Super Supper: And a bespoke Last Supper

And the 2 Day Tour of Jerusalem, Bethlehem, Masada & the Dead Sea Small Group Tour does just that.

You’ll depart on  Day 1 and take in Jerusalem (obvs) and the Old City; Western Wall; church of Holy Sepulcher and Bethlehem. And overnight in Jerusalem.

Float on: The Dead Sea

Day 2 will take in Massada, a swim in the Dead Sea (been there, but would always go again).

Of course as comprehensive as this is there’s always more. 

So check out their Galilee offers and in Jesus’ Steps packages.

And so let’s celebrate Israeli clear of Covid regs.



America, Countries, Europe, UK

John Glenn and other space cadets

Many have said it about me, so on the 60th anniversary of his becoming the first American to orbit Earth here’s to John Glenn and other space cadets.

And a nod, of course, to NASA HQ in Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

And our friends, a visiting spaceman among them, who shared their world with us.

Including witnessing multiple sunsets.

Take me to space: Bandanaman and Spaceman

The bould John, 95 years young, last went into space when he was 77.

Now that space tourism is a thing and is no barrier to age as Captain Kirk, William Shatner, 90, proved let’s look to the stars.

Through the Rainy Days and Songdays songs that have inspired us the Space Race generation.

A Mars a day

Making it up as he goes: David Bowie

Life on Mars, David Bowie: And no, not Bowie’s first space song, nor his last.

Think Space Oddity, The Man Who Fell To Earth and Ashes to Ashes.

But Life On Mars from the album Hunky Dory is certainly his best.

And to bring it back to earth Bowie name checks Ibiza and the Norfolk Broads … both stop-offs for this space cadets.

Rocket science

Making a spectacle of himself: Elton John

Rocket Man, Elton John: Elt was spaced all right when he put the score to his pal Bernie Taupin’s lyrics.

So we can’t place him anywhere though we imagine that the-then coked-up Mr John would have been seeing a lot of The Troubadour in West Hollywood then.

Swing among the stars

What he just said: Frank Sinatra

Fly Me To The Moon, Frank Sinatra: We don’t know if they’ve got old blue eyes out in space but Frank’s voice is out of this world.

Obvs we want to name check Hoboken, New Jersey and the other cities that he bigs up, New York, Chicago and LA.

But the closest we got was Las Vegas and this inscription to the Rat Pack in Neon City

All-Hit Radio

Sibling space cadets: Karen and Richard Carpenter

Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft, The Carpenters: Now this one is a new one on us but this was actually originally written by the Canadian band Klaatu (no us too but they were named after an ambassador from the extraterrestrial confederation in the film The Day The Earth Stood Still).

But it was in the hands of Richard and Karen Carpenter that the song really took off.

And it naturally has that Californian twang with the unique lead-in of Mike Ledgerwood on All Hit Radio.

This song will be heard once again

De Burgh was here: In the Nativity Scene

A Spaceman Came Travelling, Chris De Burgh: Only Chris De Burgh could come up with anything quite as overblown as a space hook to the Nativity Story.

But the Irishman did after reading Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Daniken, with a sprinkle of WB Yeats and his belief that every 2,000 years something cataclysmic happens.

Never mind that the Nativity Story is only mentioned in two out of the four gospels.

And the Monty Python boys went this way too when they had a spaceship land in Bethlehem in the Holy Land in Life of Brian.

A Galaxy far, far away

Idle life: Monty Python

Which brings us neatly to Eric Idle’s pithy reflection on the human condition in Galaxy in The Meaning of Life.

So it applies to us all, John Glenn and other space cadets.


Asia, Countries, Pilgrimage

There’s something about Mary Magdalene

There’s always something old to be found in the Holy Land and this year there’s something about Mary Magdalene.

And as always we have the archaeologists to thank.

Those who ply their trowels 24/7 and 365 days a year have only uncovered Jesus’s pal’s birthplace.

And it’s a sacred place, a 2,000-year-old synagogue from the Second Temple period in Migdal.


And we’ve found some vessels: Drink up

So where are we? Migd-where you say.

Well, Migdal served as the main base for Yosef Ben Matityahu (Flavius Josephus).

And what the Bible didn’t tell us was that he was waging a war against the Romans in the Galilee during the Great Revolt.

This site is also mentioned in Christian texts as the birthplace of Mary Magdalene.

Digging for secrets: The Promised Land

And now we’ve got your attention…

And we can tell you that the newly-excavated synagogue is a broad, square-shaped building constructed from basalt and limestone.

While in a small room on the south side of the hall, a plaster-coated stone shelf was found.

And we’re told the room may have been used to store scrolls…

And maybe (and I’m going straight to hell here) some love letters to J of Nazareth.

Building on history

Big hugs: Jesus and Mary Magdalene

So bringing us up to date, Magdalene’s birthplace comes hard on the heels of the building uncovered in the 2009 excavations.

That was the first synagogue from the Second Temple period found in the Galilee.

Professor Adi Erlich, head of the Zinman Institute of archaeology at the University of Haifa put it all in context.

He said: ‘The stone bearing a relief of the Menorah from the other synagogue at Migdal, suggests that the local Jews saw Jerusalem as their religious centre.’

We dig what you say

Holiest of holies: Jerusalem

While excavator Dina Avshalom-Gorni built on that.

She added: ‘We can imagine Mary Magdalene and her family coming to the synagogue here.

‘Along with other residents of Migdal, to participate in religious and communal events.

‘The exposure of a second synagogue casts new light on Jewish communal life in the Galilee, the area where, according to the New Testament, Jesus performed his miracles.’

At this time of the year we’re all focusing on birth, and a new beginning.

And Israel, which led the way in vaccination roll-out, is born again (they’ve a history for this too) for visitors.

Old and new

Star power: Israel

The Land of Milk and Honey‘s latest campaign, Two Cities, One Break, encourages us to visit Jerusalem and Tel Aviv.

They serve as diverse destinations that boast the country’s mineral beaches, Bauhaus architecture, 3,000-year-old history and biblical background.

And you’ll know too that Israel is home to a number of UNESCO World Heritage sites, including the Old City of Jerusalem, Acre and Masada.

Some of which they even share with their neighbours such as the Baptismal Site of John the Baptist along the River Jordan.

And you can take in both on a G Adventures Israel and Jordan trip… they’re pals, you know.

Yes, there’s something about Joseph, Jesus and there’s something about Mary Magdalene.