Day 1: Netanya Travel Recovery Day, Welcome Reception

I’m here in the holy land to document my 11th tour group from Ecclesia Houston embarking on a Breaking Bread Journeys tour. I wanted to try to get something up before I sleep to commemorate the arrival day for an amazing group of new friends who have all come together to discover the beauty, depth, history, and diversity of this magical land. Here are some images from this first day together in Netanya, Israel, a simple beachside town with many beautiful, serene scenes to welcome even the most travel-weary sojourner.

I won’t write much today as it was basically a free day with the group taking it easy to recover from travel and jet lag. We enjoyed a small reception for the entire group to meet each other where we also met Christina Samara and Lisa Moed, co-owners of our tour company, Breaking Bread Journeys, the first joint Israeli-Palestinian tour company. Pastor Chris shared with us why the holy land is such a meaningful destination for him and included these quotes for us to consider as we take in all the perspectives we will encounter this week:

“To feel the pull, the draw, the interior attraction, and to want to follow it, even if it has no name still, that is the ‘pilgrim spirit.’ The ‘why’ only becomes clear as time passes, only long after the walking is over.” ―Kevin A. Codd, Beyond Even the Stars: A Compostela Pilgrim in France

“To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendor and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe. Above all, Christians go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to the places associated with the Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection.” ―Pope Benedict XVI 

I’d also like to add these two quotes that are fitting for our journey:

“There never was a pilgrim who did not come back to his village with one less prejudice and one more idea.” — 19th-century French writer François-René Chateaubriand

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

After the reception, we enjoyed a group dinner at a cafe called The Scotsman near our hotel. The views of the Meditteranean Sea from Netanya are breathtaking; we enjoyed walks on the beach and explored the town. The official tour kicks off tomorrow bright and early as we head into Nablus, Palestine!

Amsterdam: Venice of the North

Or is Venice the Amsterdam of the South? Whatever the case, I was thoroughly impressed with this city. With an intricate web of both wide and narrow canals and a staggering number of bridges (1281 to be exact), there’s an endless amount of exploring to be done. Rent bikes and find your way around the canals and the parks of this gorgeous city and you will not be disappointed! I would suggest staying away from the too-commercialized city center, one walk-through to discover some very quaint side-streets is a good idea to get the feel there as you come out of the “Centraal” Station, but the more serene and appealing parts of the city, in my opinion, are toward the middle of the fan of canals that emanate southwest from the station.

The summer daylight lasts from about 5am to 11pm and due to the city’s high latitude, the sunset seems to last for 2-3 hours, setting very slowly, providing surreal light shows during golden hour and the extended blue hour. I hope these few shots might give you some feel of the city. I cannot wait to return to explore more of the Dutch countryside. A quick trip to Bloemendaal for a concert gave us a little preview. There’s water everywhere, and nature is on grand display at every turn. The country is very environmentally conscious and it shows.

Per i miei amici italiani:

Amsterdam: Venezia del Nord. O è Venezia l’Amsterdam del Sud? In ogni caso, sono rimasto davvero impressionato da questa città. Con una rete intricata di canali ampi e stretti e un numero impressionante di ponti (1281 per l’esattezza), c’è una quantità infinita di esplorazioni da fare. Noleggia le biciclette e fatti strada tra i canali e i parchi di questa splendida città e non rimarrai deluso! Suggerirei di stare lontano dal centro della città troppo commerciale, una passeggiata per scoprire alcune stradine molto pittoresche è una buona idea per farti sentire lì quando esci dalla stazione “Centraal”, ma più serena e parti interessanti della città, a mio parere, sono verso il centro del ventaglio di canali che emanano a sud-ovest dalla stazione.

La luce del giorno estivo dura dalle 5:00 alle 23:00 e, a causa dell’elevata latitudine della città, il tramonto sembra durare per 2-3 ore, impostando molto lentamente, fornendo spettacoli di luce surreali durante l’ora d’oro e l’ora blu estesa. Spero che questi pochi scatti possano darti un’idea della città. Non vedo l’ora di tornare per esplorare più della campagna olandese. Un breve viaggio a Bloemendaal per un concerto ci ha regalato una piccola anteprima. C’è acqua dappertutto e la natura è in gran vista ad ogni angolo. Il paese è molto attento all’ambiente e mostra.

Day 1: Netanya Travel Recovery Day, Welcome Reception

I’m here in the holy land to document my 10th tour group from Ecclesia Houston embarking on a Breaking Bread Journeys tour. I wanted to try to get something up before I sleep to commemorate the arrival day for an amazing group of new friends who have all come together to discover the beauty, depth, history, and diversity of this magical land. Here are some images from this first day together in Netanya, Israel, a simple beachside town with many beautiful, serene scenes to welcome even the most travel-weary sojourner.

I won’t write much today as it was basically a free day with the group taking it easy to recover from travel and jet lag. We enjoyed a small reception for the entire group to meet each other where we also met Christina Samara and Lisa Moed, co-owners of our tour company, Breaking Bread Journeys. Pastor Chris shared with us why the holy land is such a meaningful destination for him and included these quotes for us to consider as we take in all the perspectives we will encounter this week:

“The test of a first-rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in mind at the same time and still retain the ability to function.” — F. Scott Fitzgerald

“There never was a pilgrim who did not come back to his village with one less prejudice and one more idea.” — 19th-century French writer François-René Chateaubriand

After the reception, we enjoyed a group dinner at an outdoor cafe near the hotel. The views of the Meditteranean Sea from Netanya are breathtaking; we enjoyed walks on the beach and explored the town. The weather has been absolutely perfect. The official tour kicks off tomorrow bright and early.

Day 1: Netanya Travel Recovery Day, Welcome Reception

I’m here in the holy land to document another group from Ecclesia Houston embarking on a Breaking Bread Journeys tour. I wanted to try to get something up before I sleep to commemorate the arrival day for an amazing group of new friends who have all come together to discover the beauty, depth, history, and diversity of this magical land. Here are some images from this first day together in Netanya, Israel, a simple beachside town with many beautiful, serene scenes to welcome even the most travel-weary sojourner.

I won’t write much today as it was basically a free day with the group taking it easy to recover from travel and jet lag. We enjoyed a small reception for the entire group to meet each other where we also met Christina Samara and Lisa Moed, co-owners of our tour company, Breaking Bread Journeys. Pastor Chris shared with us why the holy land is such a meaningful destination for him and shared these moving quotes with us:

“To go on pilgrimage is not simply to visit a place to admire its treasures of nature, art or history. To go on pilgrimage really means to step out of ourselves in order to encounter God where he has revealed himself, where his grace has shone with particular splendor and produced rich fruits of conversion and holiness among those who believe. Above all, Christians go on pilgrimage to the Holy Land, to the places associated with the Lord’s passion, death, and resurrection.” — Pope Benedict XVI

“There never was a pilgrim who did not come back to his village with one less prejudice and one more idea.” — 19th-century French writer François-René Chateaubriand

After the reception, we enjoyed a group dinner at an outdoor cafe near the hotel. The views of the Meditteranean Sea from Netanya are breathtaking; we enjoyed walks on the beach, explored more of the town. The weather has been absolutely perfect. The official tour kicks off tomorrow bright and early.

Netanya: Travel Recovery Day, Reception

This is day 2 with Ecclesia Houston on a Breaking Bread Journeys tour of the holy land. I won’t write much today as it was basically a free day with the group taking it easy to recover from travel and jet lag. We enjoyed a small reception for the entire group to meet each other where we also met Christina Samara, co-owner of Breaking Bread Journeys.

We then enjoyed a group dinner at an outdoor cafe nearby the hotel. The views of the Meditteranean Sea from Netanya are breathtaking; we enjoyed walks on the beach, explored more of the town (there are cats everywhere, so I had to include a token cat-portrait impression or two), and took in yet another gorgeous sunset. The weather has been absolutely perfect. The official tour kicks off tomorrow bright and early. Here are some photos from the day. I could not decide on my favorite sunset shots, so I’m just throwing all of them on here– hope you enjoy!

Netanya: Arrival day!

Hi, I’m here in the holy land to document another group from Ecclesia Houston embarking on a Breaking Bread Journeys tour. It’s really late and I’m still recovering from the 8-hour jet lag. But I wanted to try to get something up before I sleep to commemorate the arrival day for an amazing group of new friends who have all come together to discover the beauty, depth, history, and diversity of this magical land. Here are some images from this first day together in Netanya, Israel, a simple beachside town with many beautiful, serene scenes to welcome even the most travel-weary sojourner.