We made it home safely!

I’m really not ready to be home, but I’m excited to tell everyone about the trip and give all my friends and family the gifts I bought for them.

Our last day in Jerusalem was the perfect last day in Israel. We all got up early and went back to the Old City to return to the Church of the Holy Sepulcher in hopes that fewer people would be there early in the morning. The crowd was much smaller and those wanting to touch the stone where the cross was placed were able to do that. We also got to view the empty tomb of Jesus.

We also walked to the Dome of the Rock. This is an incredibly beautiful Muslim mosque. We couldn’t go in because it’s only open to Muslims, but it was beautiful to see from the outside.

Before leaving the Old City we stopped at a sweets shop and had knafe. Knafe is a pastry filled with cheese and topped with pistachios. It was incredibly delicious.

In the afternoon some of us shopped on Ben Yehuda Street. This pedestrian mall had lots of cafes, restaurants and shops. It’s a more modern area of Jerusalem. I ate falafel for the last time and it was one of the best falafel sandwiches I had during the trip! I was so excited. I’m pretty sure I ate falafel at least six times during our trip and I never grew tired of eating it. Maha and I also bought fabulous rings while we were shopping. There were lots of fun jewelry shops in this area.

Raed joined us on his day off from tour guiding (if that’s a term). After shopping on Ben Yehuda Street, he and I walked to another modern mall and also walked near the King David Hotel where lots of very important people like presidents and ambassadors stay. We then walked back through Old Jerusalem to get back to the hotel. He told more stories and it was nice to just listen and not take notes like I had been the rest of the trip.

We departed Jerusalem at 7:30 p.m. and traveled to Tel Aviv. Going through security was interesting. After having our to-be-checked luggage surveyed most of us had to go through additional security where our luggage was searched and we were questioned about the contents of our luggage. We then checked in, went through a passport check, then the regular security check of carry-on items. We arrived at the airport over three hours before our flight and only waited at our gate for about 15 minutes before boarding.

I slept almost the whole flight from Tel Aviv to Atlanta. I was exhausted after a day of walking all over Jerusalem and two weeks of traveling through Israel. In Atlanta we had to get our luggage, go through customs and re-check our luggage. Then we were on our way to Omaha. We landed in Nebraska just after 10 a.m.

This trip was truly a life-changing experience. I’m so grateful that Maha invited me to go. I loved getting to know all the students and community members who went on the trip. They were all wonderful people who I hope to keep in touch with. Learning about the culture and people of Israel was such a valuable experience. There’s no way I could learn the things I discovered from reading the news or history books. Meeting the people who live there and learning first-hand what it’s like to live there was extremely valuable. I will never forget rafting down the Jordan River, meeting people who live in the refugee camp, floating in the Dead Sea, walking the streets of Jerusalem and all the wonderful experiences we had. Thank you Maha and Elias for such a wonderful trip. Shukran!

I wasn’t able to post photos while we were staying near the Dead Sea and in Jerusalem so I posted those photos today. Go back and view my old posts to check out the photos. I’m also going to post a few videos in the next few days so keep checking back.

Thanks for reading my travel blog. It was so fun writing from Israel and I’m thankful I got the opportunity to share our experience. Thanks to all who read the blog!

  • Sara, I want to thank you for coming along and being such great fun to be around. Your blog kept the families and friends of participants informed; that was invaluable to all of us. Since we share the love of flafel and jewelery, I think that our future paths will cross again.
    I nominate you for journalist of the year. You are the best, thank you forever.

  • Sara…you have been blessed with incredible insight, an eye for detail, a beautiful personality and a desire to explore our amazing world. Thank you for taking us along your journey to Israel…I enjoyed it so very much.

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