Haiku No. 5

Its 5 months since I last posted Haiku, and 1 month since I last posted anything here. I am so sorry! This is not how I planned it. I returned form Armenia and Georgia with a notebook and a card full of pictures. Every day I planned to finally go through them after work. And every time, something else seemed more important. I started a second job – not that the first one in the practice isn’t paying or fulfilling, but we are planning some changes to...

Our Jet Set Kitty: An International Pet Adoption

Since May 2017, we have a Siamese-mix cat whom we adopted from Spain. Why adopt? And why adopt from abroad? Our planet has no shortage of cats, and due to the lax neutering attitude of many people, cats often multiply without control. Most animal protection organisations advocate neutering and run neutering programmes, but it is not always enforced. In our federal state, some towns and districts made it a law that if your cat goes outside, it has to be neutered, and there is a petition that...

Budapest Sugar Rush: Grand Cafes and Sweet Patisseries

What could be better in winter than to soak in hot thermal waters and enjoy some very fine cakes? As a child, we usually travelled to Hungary during late spring for a week’s holiday. We had to apply vor a visa months in advance and could only change a small amount of our currency into Hungarian Forint. This was enough for the Leanyfalu Baths, but we never ate put and shopped in supermarkets only – with the exception of a single trip to the then Cafe Hungaria which stuck in...

Via Dolorosa: a somewhat crowded pilgrimage

Just in time for Holy Week, here comes an account of my last day in Jerusalem, encompassing visits to Rachel’s Tomb, the Mount of Olives, and the Via Dolorosa. Among the lanes in Jerusalems Old City, the Via Dolorosa marks the last steps of Jesus Christ prior to his crucification, and is a scantily marked, mostly pedestrian street that winds through the Muslim Quarter into the Christian Quarter and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the site where Jesus Christ was crucified and buried. While the Church...

Taking the Waters in Budapest

Is a winter trip to Budapest a good idea? It can be pretty cold, and due to its easterly location it gets dark early.  But flights to Budapest and hotels cost a lot less, than in the summer, restaurants and attractions are open all year, and this is the perfect time to wallow in the city’s many thermal baths! Winter hadn’t even started properly, I was unemployed and going back and forth to my home town visiting my sick grandmother, sitting on local trains for about six hours...

Gold, Frankincense, Myrrh… gifts to bring back from Israel

Compared to most countries in Europe, including my native Germany, Israel is a rather expensive country. Ryanair hand luggage limitations and an already full apartment aside, my shopping sprees where somewhat limited by my 500 EURO budget for the entire trip, including flights, accommodation, food and local transport. Did I manage? Yes – but I ate nothing but hummus and falafel all week and I skipped those pretty gifts like silver mezuzah cases  and Roman coin earrings. So, please read on if you’re  interested in frugal but nice...

The other side of the Wall: A journey to Rachel’s Tomb

To be honest with you: I first heard of the existence of Rachels Tomb when seeing the Destination Boards of Bethlehem-bound buses: Rachels’ Tomb/Checkpoint 300. It is not without irony that the place where the Hebrew Matriarch Rachel is buried now signifies a checkpoint between what can only be described as two separate countries: Israel and Palestine, and that is frequently the scene of conflict between the two flaring up. On my visit Bethlehem, I noticed how oddly the wall was shaped close to the checkpoint, it looked...

Is it safe to visit the Mount of Olives?

In peaceful times, a trip up the Mount of Olives, for the stunning view over the Old City and the Temple Mount, is part of every itinerary of Jerusalem. Wonderful vistas aside, the Mount of Olives is also one of the sites where Jesus Christ is said to have been departed the Earth to be with God. Even older is the Jewish Cemetery, which has been present on the slopes of the hill for over 3000 years and to this day is a very sought-after burial place,...

A morning on Temple Mount

The Temple Mount is part of the Old City of Jerusalem and a site revered by Jews, Christinas and Muslims, and has a dramatic history, which carries on to the present day.   For people of the Jewish faith, it is the holiest site.  It is the site of the Holiest of the Holies (Tabernacle), containing the Ark of the Covenant.  The first Temple was built by the Israelites under King Solomo around 3000 years ago around it. Following its destruction by Nebukadnezar about 450 years later, ...

Arriving in the Holy Land and Jerusalem – finally!

Jerusalem – Holy City of three faiths, contested for millennia, a destination that has long been on my list of places I wish to visit in my lifetime. For a long time, the Second Intifada put a stop to that, then I couldn’t find anyone to travel with or my mother told me she would be worried sick if I went, and I was never sure I wanted to go there all by myself.   Of course I could have joined a tour. Perhaps a Christian tour?...