Israel Mystery Photo #21

Carved Bells

Where can you find this in Israel?

Apparently, the last Israel Mystery Photo was fairly easy, as I expected it would be (and not just for tour guides). All four people who answered got it right, and I’m sure that if more people saw it, they too would have responded correctly. It is located on a major street in Tel Aviv, in front of an important historical landmark. So many people see it on a frequent basis. But more on that shortly.

First, I want to introduce the current mystery photo, featured at right. This too will likely be somewhat easy, though a drop harder than the last one. Fewer people will have actually seen it, but the combination of the style, the subject, the background, and other ancillary information might make it easy to guess, even if you’ve never actually seen it.

So if you don’t recognize it, try to put on your thinking caps and figure this baby out! As always, you can click on the image to view a larger version of it.

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Art is Happening Now in Jerusalem

Cutting a limestone block into a sculpture

Russian sculptor Alex Shestakov at work in Jerusalem

Last night, as I wandered the streets of Jerusalem, I unexpectedly came across two awesome art events happening simultaneously in this city. Following the summer’s Jerusalem Season of Culture, these two events are extending the cultural happenings into the fall. I am hoping that they become regular events, added to the already extensive and diverse cultural calendar of this city.

First, I was walking along the Park HaMesilah, the narrow park that about two years ago transformed the old train tracks from a hideous eyesore to a usable (and well-used) recreation and relaxation zone. I was heading to the newly redeveloped Tachana HaRishona (First Station), the old Ottoman-era train station that has been transformed into a lovely shopping, dining and events venue for the entire family. I’d recently discovered some of the newer things added there (as it is still new, there are constantly new places opening there), and was thinking about getting a quick drink at a new beer-garden (of sorts) there.

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Israel: Land of Diversity

Hedge arch in Akko Baha'i Gardens. Israel.

Take a seat and enjoy the view in the Baha’i Gardens in Akko, surrounding the Shrine of the Baha’ullah

I just finished guiding an American family for the past two weeks, and we traveled all over Israel. We left out the Negev (south) because it is too hot in the middle of August, but beyond that, we pretty much hit the rest of the country and got at least a taste of all of its diverse regions. I designed the itinerary, and when planning an itinerary of this nature, the main guiding principle is going to be geography, i.e. we visit things that are close together on a single day, and move from region to region in logical sequence. In this case, we basically made a circular route, heading from the airport to Tel Aviv, then up the coast, across the Galilee to the Golan Heights and Kineret region, down the Jordan Valley to the Dead Sea, and then to Jerusalem and the Shefelah/Lowlands.

Of course, in designing such a tour, I also aim to present things that show various aspects of what this country has to offer. No one wants to spend two weeks seeing the same things over and over. But it wasn’t until I was on the tour with this family, a few days in, that it hit me just how diverse were the sites we were visiting. I know I’ve discussed Israel’s diversity before, but I was still impressed that we literally visited almost no sites that were redundant with each other.

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ONLY in Israel – Top 5

View Across the Dead Sea. Fun Joel Haber. Israel Tour Guide.

A View Over the Dead Sea from Mount Sodom

Frequently, you hear people comment “Only in Israel,” in response to various things they overhear or see here. Often, it is meant to try to capture some of the unique aspects of the character of the Israeli people. But as we all know, these things don’t only happen in Israel, even if they are somewhat demonstrative and capture the spirit of the country.

For that reason, however, I wanted to write a post about the things that you truly can only see in Israel. Nowhere else in the world. Tour guides typically speak in hyperbolic extremes. I know that I am certainly “guilty” of this at times. We’ll tell you how a spot is the highest, largest, newest or furthest south of its kind. But while those extremes may be interesting, and can be mildly significant, they rarely are very important. They are typically little more than gimmicks to maintain interest.

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Israel Mystery Photo #17

The next Israel Mystery Photo. Fun Joel. Tour Guide.

A lot of you will probably recognize this

I’m in a good mood, so I am giving you guys a fairly easy Mystery Photo this time. If you have ever been at this site, you should recognize this. And even some of you who have never been might be able to guess it!

Why am I in such a good mood, you may ask? Because I passed my oral exam! I am proud to say that I am now officially a licensed Israeli tour guide! I’ll post more about the exam soon, but I did want to let you all know, and thank you for all of your support and kind wishes. Next step for me is to now fill out the paperwork, and start the process towards getting my actual physical license.

But now on to the heart of these Mystery Photo posts — the part where I write about the previous Mystery Photo!

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A Light at the End of the Tunnel

Israel Tourism. Tour Guide. Fun Joel Haber. Beit Shean Amphitheater - Vomitorium.

The Light at the End of the Tunnel (taken at Beit Shean amphitheater)

I wanted to update you all about the exam process. For starters, I am proud and excited to announce that I passed the written exam! I got the news on the morning of January 1st, so what a great way to start the New Year! In fact, the test was very straightforward, with no real curve balls (as I wrote previously), and there was a fairly high passing rate.

Additionally, earlier this week I received the appointment for my meeting at the Ministry of Tourism for my oral exam. I will actually be the first in my class (I believe) to present — 9 AM on Thursday January 26, in just over 2 weeks. I feel relatively well-prepared, but I definitely have more work to do in preparation. Both in terms of preparing my guiding, and my itinerary for the day, as well as general prep for the open question section of the oral.

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Israel Mystery Photo #16

Menorah Mosaic. Israel Mystery Photo. Tourism. Tour Guide. Fun Joel Haber.

Look carefully at this one!

For those wondering how the test went on Sunday, I’ll be writing another post soon in which I review the exam. But suffice it to say that I feel fairly good about my performance on it and am just waiting to hear whether or not I passed. Results in a few more weeks, I guess.

And now on to the previous Israel Mystery Photo. As 3 of 4 commenters answered correctly, the photo was taken at the 9/11 Memorial in the forest on the northwestern outskirts of Jerusalem. It is a place that I’d been wanting to visit for a while, and was very happy to hear about even before I visited. I was finally able to get there a few weeks ago, and was not disappointed.

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Top 10 Things to Do in Jerusalem – Part 2

Jerusalem Summer Street Fair. Live Band.

A band playing at one of Jerusalem's Friday afternoon summer street parties.

For the first three entries in this post: Jerusalem Top 10 – Part 1

Continuing the list:

4. Get Some Culture

Jerusalem has a thriving cultural scene, full of great music, art and crafts. And especially through the summer season (which really lasts about half the year here), there are tons of festivals that can satisfy myriad interests.

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Israel Mystery Photo #6

The next Israel Mystery Photo

Can you tell me where this photo was taken?

So, what did I learn from last week’s Israel Mystery Photo? I learned that they are much more challenging for my classmates when we did not visit the location as part of our course. I only got two responses last week (both correct): one directly emailed to me and one from Aaron in the comments, where he admitted to Googling it to find the correct answer: the Artists’ Colony in Ein Hod.

But that also raises another question for me: does making these photos challenging for my classmates also make them way too hard for the rest of you? I’d rather this be a fun challenge for most of my readers, more than a tough challenge for my classmates. So please do let me know in the comments, even if you do not know where this photo was taken. I’m also open to further suggestions and ideas. For example, would multiple choice be better for this? Let me know! Anyway…

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