The first three pictures are of the Basilica Cistern in Istanbul. I have seen a lot of cisterns and this is the most spectacular one built, dating back to the sixth century.
Quick update: I am back in Tel Aviv from the Negev desert and will be arriving on the organic farm tomorrow. I am looking forward to getting into a regular daily routine—in addition to working, I will be returning to my yoga/workout routine that I cultivated in Beirut. One other aspect of this situation is home cooked food, and I will have my own space. I am in need of my own space and downtime, it has been three months since I departed the house sitting situation in Beirut—traveling Turkey was constant and intense, although well worth the time.
A traveling tip: The Lonely Planet Guide book for Israel is $21.99 in the USA; in Israel, the price is 200NIS, which is $50.00. At the Lonely Planet website a person can buy the PDF download at the normal price in dollars; in addition, the website allows to mix and match by the chapter. How convenient, this situation will allow the traveler to buy only the chapter needed, this arrangement will proved cost effective when I travel Eastern Europe.
Heading to Masada through Arad did not work out because of lack of transportation and the road is not connected to the hostel in Masada. I decided I will visit the Dead Sea and Masada from Jerusalem in January. In Addition, the hostel in Arad was full, except for private a room that is a total rip-off for the price. I made my way back to Tel Aviv and will head out on Friday to the organic farm.
There are positives and negatives to Couch-surfing. I have couch-surfed for six nights at three different homes within my first week in Israel. I have visited and met many nice, friendly, welcoming Israeli people. Most homes are small; at the three homes, I slept in the studio/living area, although comfortable. Even so, couch surfing can be energy draining unless a private room is provided, including a key for the house that allows freedom of movement. Each situation is different, couch surfing in Cairo, Dahab, and Aleppo I did have my own room and a key.
The positive side is that staying in a home within the culture of the people is special for the traveler. Most people offer you food, and want to cook for their guest, some hosts will offer to show the surfer around town. Indeed, couch surfing is free, although that should not be the motivating factor for the traveler. Some situations demand the surfer away from the house when the host is away from the home, that situation can cause a major drain of energy; though, couch surfing is an excellent tool to learn the deeper level of culture of the populace.
I will be writing about more details about my upcoming travel route, the possible change of style and more about Israeli culture.
These last two pictures are of this type of deer that resides in Mitzpe Ramon.