The Holy Land - Los Angeles News | FOX 11 LA KTTV

From Anchor Araksya Karapetyan

The Holy Land

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My first trip to Israel was very eventful. But I do feel like it was a vacation that I need a vacation from!

In five days we managed to squeeze in so many activities. The days flew by, but at the same time I felt like I had been there for a long time…Here are just a few memorable moments that come to mind…

The Old City- I loved spending time there. Every step I took felt as though it was a walk in history. The walls which define the Old City are divided into four quarters - Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters. The quarters blend together as you walk around, but you realize you have entered a different part when you hear the language that's being spoken and you look around to see what items are being sold. It is fascinating to see so many different people, groups, religions, customs and traditions coexisting together.

One of my favorite parts of the trip was waking up at 3 a.m. the first night we were there and going out to explore the Old City. No one was really around. Everything was quiet and still. Yet in that silence we felt so safe, so protected. Experiencing the Old City in the middle of the night was incredible. It was so peaceful... We ran free... In the barely-lit alleys and narrow streets we made our way around… it was as if we were going through a maze. We would get lost, then find our way back. We ended by at the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and happened to walk in during an Armenian mass... Afterwards, watching the sun come up that morning was a beautiful experience.

The same Old City had a completely different atmosphere during the day. With the sunrise the bazaar comes to life! There is so much energy bursting in every step you take, so much action, so much noise, so many people around that one can easily become overwhelmed... All the colors and smells, the voices, the music, the people... there is so much to see.  And what was interesting, towards the end of my trip I started to really get into haggling. At first I was hesitant and felt uncomfortable and shy about it... but it really didn't take long to start learning the art of haggling!

I loved the hustle and bustle of the Mahane Yehuda Market in Jerusalem. All the fresh produce, fresh baked bread and delicious sweets can open up one's appetite in no time. There are juice stands all around and fresh squeezed pomegranate juice is a popular seller there. If you are a fan of something tart and refreshing, then you would love it!  But for me a bazaar is a magical place in a different sense. It really is my number one place to people watch, one of my favorite things to do when I travel - to go beyond the tourist hotspots and see how everyday people live, where they shop, where they work and how they spend their free time... I think you can form an opinion about a nation and/or a city, visiting their bazaar. A very interesting observation for me at the Mahane Yehuda Market was to see how patient and tolerant people were, how organized everything was in that open-air market - I did form my opinion there.

Other things that I found exciting during my trip was getting the experience of getting into the Jordan River and "swimming" in the Dead Sea.  Jordan River... It was cold to step in but it felt nice immediately... Crowds of people from around the world around you... they are all full of energy and hope... And, as you stand in the Jordan River and face the opposite shore you realize Jordan is just a few feet away. We could have had a conversation with the people across the river if we wanted to.  I wanted to swim across so badly and say I had been in Jordan... but decided against it, once I saw the armed guard standing on the border!

My Dead Sea swim... it was more of a float, as it was impossible to go for a traditional swim because of the high salt content.  It was worthwhile to see the sea which we all learn about in high school as being the Earth's lowest elevation on land, about 1,401 feet below sea level!  Getting in and out of the water is tricky, the ground is incredibly slippery and gooey. You almost feel like its sucking you in. And walking around is challenging… to say the least.  It was also funny to see everyone taking the mud and rubbing it all over their bodies. When you come out of the water, your skin is left tingling from the saltiness. It was a unique experience...

For some going to Israel is a religious pilgrimage, a spiritual voyage… for others it's a historic journey. For me it was a little bit of both. I definitely didn't enjoy the 14 hour flight to Tel Aviv and 15 hour flight back... but it really was a trip of a lifetime.

One more thing off my bucket list!

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