I was fortunate to be selected by an amazing women’s organisation to go to Israel. Thanks to generous donors, I only had to pay for my airfare and personal expenses. To be given this incredible gift of a free trip, all expenses paid was a brilliant opportunity and I loved every minute of it. Most of the time we were in Jerusalem and our knowledgeable guides breathed life in to the city. We weren’t there just as tourists but had the opportunity to absorb religion, culture and heritage.
How did it come about?
Thanks to an amazing group in America, they have created a world-wide organisation to allow men and women the opportunity to travel to Israel on a spiritual journey. Since returning, I have supported and fundraised for the group (we have a branch here in Melbourne, Australia) that allows other people to also enjoy this incredible experience.
Places your visited?
We walked our feet off and saw the sites, markets and places of worship. One of the highlights was going in to the tunnels beneath the Western Wall to see thousands of years of history. There is also a private women’s prayer room, far below the ground, which was very spiritual to spend time in.
Apart from sightseeing, we also spent time listening to talks, learning dancing and meeting the locals. We had lunch with a family on the Sabbath which was really, really nice.
I can’t list all the places we visited (there were so many) but I just loved walking around and looking at the buildings. Everything has been either restored or preserved. All history is important.
When I was there, they were building a car park but when the builders came across some historical artifacts, all work stopped and the archaeologists moved in.
Any tips for people wanting to take this journey?
Take a tour! Lots of people want to do it themselves and that’s fine but a guide will show you so much of the city that you can not see as a tourist. It’s a beautiful city. Take walking shoes and look around, there’s so much to see.
Any dos and don’ts for first time travelers to Jerusalem?
Take good walking shoes. Many of the lane-ways in old Jerusalem are cobbled, so you need good shoes. If you’re there in summer, I highly recommend a pair of Naot sandals. I bought a pair on my first day and wore them everyday of our trip – they’re that comfortable.
The Israeli breakfasts are amazing and a good start to the day. You’ll also find the iced coffee (available everywhere) perfect when you’re hot from so much walking.
Allow lots of time to visit Jerusalem, there is so much to see and if you’re religious take a pocket bible (or you can buy one). You’ll want to read it whilst there. There’s so much history documented in the bible and you’ll be reading it where it was written.
Jerusalem is a religious city and everything shuts on the Sabbath, from Friday night to Saturday night. There’s no public transport or shops open (some of the Arab section will be open).
Falling for Mr Wrong is a fun romance with an Australian heroine being chased across the country by the paparazzi when the handsome hero saves her. Unbeknownst to her, the hero is a reporter.
A Magical Christmas in Jerusalem is an inspirational, sweet read which features a romance between an Australian tourist and the tour guide. I just loved writing this story and spent much time creating a meaningful backstory and family history for my hero.
Anything else you want to add?
Go and visit Israel. There’s so much to see from the history, to the amazing culinary experiences to having fun (e.g. swimming in the Dead Sea). The religious aspects of the country make it even more interesting but the sheer beauty of the landscape is just breath taking.
Joanne Dannon, an Australian author, writes to give her readers the experience she loves to savor–indulging in a sigh-worthy-happily-ever- after, being swept away from the everyday by diving into a delicious romance novel.
Joanne is a happily married mother of two heroes-in-training who loves spending time with friends and family. She can be found on Facebook and her website www.joannedannon.com chatting about reading, writing, cooking, vintage-inspired dresses and all things romantic.
Australian project manager Kiara Lonsdale is career focussed and determined to provide and care for the grandmother who raised her. Taking time off work to vacation has never been high on her agenda, but this year she’s made an exception. She’s helping her gran fulfil a life-long dream by accompanying her on a Christmas to the Holy Land tour.
Jacques Lenoir and his extended family run tours in Israel and he’s committed to their business. Jacques feels responsible for his grandparents’ welfare since they risked their lives, and others’, as operatives in the French Resistance, during the War.
But over romantic dinners in the desert, camel rides, and mud baths at the Dead Sea, sparks fly between Kiara and Jacques. Will this only be a holiday romance or will a touch of Christmas magic make it last a lifetime?
A Magical Chanukah in New York
Lisa Sassoon has shunned the scandal of her loser-ex cheating on her by escaping to New York. Instead of sightseeing, she’s become a recluse focusing on helping the less fortunate at a homeless shelter.
Gabe Olivari, entrepreneur and savvy business New Yorker, can’t let go of the pain of losing his best friend. So caught up in his own grief and believing he doesn’t deserve to be happy, he compensates by pushing everyone close to him away.
But when Lisa and Gabe meet, there is an instant connection that forces them to question not only their behaviours but their aspirations.
Can a dash of Chanukah magic help Lisa and Gabe realise that sparkling dates and dreamy kisses can lead to more? Perhaps even a lifetime of happiness?