Reviews

A Layover in Iceland

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In most instances especially when traveling in the United States a long layover is not very exciting. However, what may appear sour one place may be an opportunity to make lemonade in another. This is especially true when traveling abroad its like having two trips for the price of one. I wrote about this on our first trip to Israel where we had a 9 hour layover in Paris. On this last trip we had a 19 hour layover in Iceland. I would have planned much more had it not been on a Friday nearing a Shabbat. Of course in Iceland the sun goes down after 9:00pm during the season of Passover so that still gave us quite a bit of time to see some things.

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There is lots to do in Iceland and our plan was to catch the Perlan Museum in the city of Reykjavik, Iceland. Unfortunately it was closed due to a fire a couple of days before we got there. It seemed simple enough the cost to get a two way bus pass from the airport to the city was significant, around $127 total on the Flybus. From there you take a transfer to a smaller bus (the total price includes this transfer) to the Harpa station and finally something free. A free shuttle bus will get you from the Harpa station to the Perlan Museum. Once there, plan to spend $29 per person to see this museum. The museum gives you a history of how Iceland’s glaciers were formed and would allow you to experience one the way I would like to experience being in an icebox, virtually.

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We were blessed to come in on a beautiful day in Iceland. Iceland has very sporadic weather that can be nice one minute and the next an ice storm can occur. Fortunately this layover was a good one and the weather was cold and crisp, but sunny as well. What it lacks in weather it makes up for in beauty. Breathtaking views and public bathrooms are about the only thing free in Iceland. Iceland is very expensive, to eat a meal even a simple one expect to pay airport prices even at bus stations. Water over $3, meals over $20, I bought some black lava crackers that were $9.99 and the cheapest souvenir that was decent enough to pass for something memorable and useful for a child was a glowing globe pen with Iceland written inside of it, $8.07. My husband bought a book that was a comedy book concerning what Icelanders think about American’s for $36.00. So when you go expect that you will pay a lot for transportation, excursions, and food. Accommodations well we didn’t have to stay over night we chose to stay in the airport. However, I did book a trip for a friend who will be spending a week there, and if you are willing to share a room you can find some accommodations with a central location on Airbnb for $55 a night. Taxes are also expensive so just expect to pay a lot even for something simple. This is when tax free and duty free shopping really comes in handy.

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A note about the airport it was beautiful and the craftsmanship in the place was amazing. From the wooden functional chairs with tables and hookups, to the displaying wall decor that included an electronic board inside the window that showed the views of the city. The bathrooms were amazing as they are fully enclosed and completely functional. The sinks were automatic and the hand drying system is a part of the water faucet saving both space and just plane practical. The sort of privacy you want when you are in a bathroom, especially when it is public. One of the things I enjoy about traveling abroad is it gives me ideas about how we as a nation can improve what we have. All it takes to lose our position as the leader of the free world is to get comfortable and from what I have seen we as a nation have truly gotten way more comfortable then we should.

The people and the food was amazing. The airport experience was a breeze I must say I have found the airport experience abroad in most places I have visited to be a lot smoother, efficient, and faster. An airport is basically like a welcome center to tourist and with that perspective I can see the importance of really making it spectacular.

This is a place that takes health seriously from crackers made out of activated charcoal to juice bars sporting chia seeds and fresh squeezed juice. But health comes at a high premium there as it does here. Those who enjoy all sorts of sea foods will definitely find what they are looking for here as that is also available in abundance. However, other cultures from American made burgers to BBQ and Mexican dishes are there in abundance.

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As I stated before we couldn’t tour the Perlan museum but as one door closed another door open. We made our way to the Harpa which is a concert hall newly completed in 2014. It was absolutely amazing from the structure to the technology involved, and the views of the area. To go into the place is free, but to get a tour is like the VIP pass into the actual halls and how they work. We really enjoyed the experience and it cost us half the price of the Perlan Museum. While the salesman tried to say it was better, I can’t confirm that since I didn’t get a chance to visit the Perlan but as beautiful as it was I highly doubt it was comparable to virtual glaciers. While music halls are things I have seen a glacier is not, but if you go hopefully you will tell me. Happy traveling and I hope this glimpse of Iceland will spark your interest to travel to the lava land island yourself an dip in the Blue Lagoon and enjoy the natural wonders. Dress warm, travel light, and work overtime this spot will definitely put a dent in your budget but well worth the visit.

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Medgar Evers Museum

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I always enjoy learning about history and especially my history.  Museums are popping up all over to share amazing facts about our past and I must admit I prefer the Tour Guide assisted ones the most.  There is nothing quite like a well prepared curator to transport you back in time and recreate the treasures of history that is lost from the pages of textbooks.

Located in Jackson, MS it is truly something different about standing in the space that this man who gave his life for fighting for the freedoms I now enjoy that renders you speechless.  In his own words he lived with the fear of his inevitable demise his stand for freedom would take.  He left behind three young children and a young wife who would have to continue on in the fear of being targeted.  Indeed as scripture says, you must first bind the strong man if one is to take a house. (Matt. 12:29)  His death was a tremendous blow to the cause and delayed justice of his murderer was a slap in the face.  Mississippi is one of the most ruthless places for the atrocities of those of us of color in the land. For that cause it’s fitting that it would house within its borders so many museums that preserve that fact. Of course not to its complement though unfortunately many people would consider it’s distasteful treatment of its own citizens to be otherwise, nevertheless I am thankful the accurate history is made available for those of us desiring to discover it.

The window that has preserved the bullet hole still visible and the furniture and walls where a bullet ricochet through still visible to reveal the horror a family had to endure for refusing to apologize for their existence and demanding equal treatment for a system that is receiving equal pay through taxes and patronage from his hard earned money.

His daughters room, Reena, now holds the wall with his life’s story as a beautiful collage and honorable tribute. When decent and humble people can’t raise their family in peace it is a tragedy.  The struggle had never been about being treated better or receiving something for nothing, but being treated equal. Being treated as you want others to treat you.  Such a simple biblical principle that all people should be able to have access too and be willing to live by.

 

 

Me with Minnie Watson our Tour Guide

I am often amazed at how peaceably those who are blessed to be historical orators are at sharing such a profound history.  To be trusted to pass on such valuable information is like having ownership of a trust.  The most important thing about a trust is what will you do with it? How will you keep the legacy, how will you preserve the treasure of such a name? I was happy to hear the family is continuing the work. Reena is actively working to make a difference in the African American youth of Mississippi and her brother and Mother helps her in that work.  I am equally glad that they have chosen to make their home a landmark that will stand for future generations so that they never forget what love looks like and the devastation hate can cause.

Young Living Bon Voyage Travel Kit

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Are you packing and getting ready to jet set in some fancy place outside of your own space?  Looking to preserve your healthy lifestyle even when back tracking through the everglades of life?  Well it is possible.  What this little pack lacks it makes up for in quality products and compact convenience.  I would only add a few more things to this bag of treats to make it complete, and thankfully the bag that it comes in leaves room for just that.  Always remember however, what ever you add must meet the travel guidelines of TSA or you will be leaving it behind on your adventure.  It doesn’t come with deodorant and DSA is liquid mineral salt completely safe and I will be adding the recipe for how I make my own with oils available to all those interested on my essential oils website and on the oil cafe.

So here is what you do get with your kit:

  • Thieves® AromaBright Toothpaste, 60ml
  • Thieves Waterless Hand Purifier, 29.5ml
  • Thieves Dental Floss
  • Thieves Fresh Essence Plus Mouthwash, 60ml
  • Young Living Toothbrush
  • Lavender Shampoo, 60ml
  • Lavender Conditioner, 60ml
  • Cinnamint Lip Balm
  • Morning Start™ Bath & Shower Gel, 60ml
  • Genesis™ Hand & Body Lotion, 60ml
  • ART® Light Moisturizer, 10g

Retail: $72.37

Wholesale: $55.00

If you would like to sign up to get your kit for $55.00 along with making the switch to a healthier home then join me to a healthier you and take advantage of a host of free resources that I make available to all of my team members to help them maximize the most of their investment.  This is not an investment in just wealth acquisition but in health accumulation.

In Search of the Mysterious 458 Bus Etiquette For Israeli Travel

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The busing system in Jerusalem is quite intricate. Many buses doing the same thing and going the same places. However for those interested in traveling to other further away areas of Israel you will find few buses and their locations further away from main bus station. Any English speaking person will be able to maneuver at most stops as they are in Hebrew and English. The problem comes in with special buses in that there arrival and departure points vary drastically. They also travel less frequently so you can easily tie your whole day up waiting as we did for our bus to Dimona. Now of course only God can make lemonade out of lemons and he did so. Special note English speakers if you see the word “alighten” next to bus number on bus stop this is for drop off not pickup. This mistake cost us valuable time in our day. Having started at 7:30am in Bethlehem from taxi to bus to train with 5 pieces of heavy luggage to the central bus station waiting till 2:16pm for a bus stop that neither information or any other person could correctly guide us to proved to be a futile effort. After missing the 458 bus we opted to go through Beersheva rather then wait on the 8pm 458 bus to appear in Jerusalem and lose an entire day. But again Yah orchestrated all, so after getting to Beersheva we met a couple who are attending the same event at the bus stop and they being English speakers have guided us as well. By the way after two hours of ministering to a young man from Canada even our six hour delay produced fruit for the kingdom of Yah and taught us something else, when you are delayed sometimes it’s on purpose.
Getting even closer to finishing the informentary on traveling as a native in Israel.  This will be a must have guide to getting the most out of your trip.  The more you go the more you learn.  We have made three trips now in less then 365 days and the knowledge and tips we acquired will be well worth purchasing this informentary and its accompanying workbook.

International Travel: Bed and Breakfast or Hotel

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Thus far my overseas travel portfolio as far as overnight stays only applies to one nation and that is Israel.  However, I have experienced traveling there staying in a hotel and staying in a bed and breakfast.  This review is just my personal view as well as travel tips concerning both.  On our first trip to Israel our entire stay with the exception of one overnight stay in a Kibbutz in Dimona was in a hotel.  The location was perfect as this hotel was literally only a few feet from the Central Bus Station in Jerusalem.  This made traveling the land as a native extremely easy and so for the location I would say this was a pretty good choice.  This is basically where the buck stops as it relates to staying in a hotel versus a bed and breakfast.  The cost to stay in the hotel was roughly $89 a night and to stay in a bed and breakfast $25 a night.

Our hotel suite provided us more space then the average hotel room would as we did have a miniature refrigerator, a living room and dining table area which is an excellent space for guest with a beautiful view of the city.  These amenities were nice to have, and staying in Israel means that any spot you stay in will be beaming with character, fortunately this is a trait that either a hotel or bed and breakfast will provide.  Having said that the benefit of a bed and breakfast is that you have access to a kitchen, which will include some sort of cooking surface apparatus, a full size refrigerator, and occasionally laundry area both of which are excellent amenities if you keep the Sabbath or plan to stay for more than a few days in the country.

The other bonus to staying in a bed and breakfast is the personal connection you get to make with the host.  Having a host that is dedicated to a few customers will always be more valuable than a hotel concierge who must see about the needs of potentially hundreds of guests.  Not to mention a host is an invaluable resource to not just helping you get around affordably as a native, but helping you learn how to maneuver the area safely and can help you truly understand the culture from the eyes of a local.  Especially if they speak both English and Hebrew or Arabic this means you have a translator just within a few feet of view, and all this for a price of between $25 and $39 per night.  No hotel in Jerusalem will be able to compete with a deal that good or provide that personal touch.

Living in the U.S. bed and breakfast has a different meaning.  We are used to victorian style homes which are beaming with character, but usually consists of uniquely designed rooms which may or may not include a private bathroom, and also means sharing the home with other strangers while the host makes you breakfast downstairs.  Well, my experience overseas has been somewhat different as no one has made us breakfast and occasionally you’ll find fresh eggs in the refrigerator and home made bread that may be dropped off outside your door, but you will be cooking the eggs yourself and you have your own private apartment that you don’t have to share any of the common area with others.  Obviously, the second image is usually more desirable then the first and unless you choose to share a space with strangers will be the likely accommodations you will receive.  For the reasons mentioned in the U.S. bed and breakfast is not quite as popular yet as resort and hotel accommodations.  However, in my albeit limited experience I was pleasantly delighted with the value and the security I felt living in the residential area of the land.  Staying in a bed and breakfast is not as easy to choose as perhaps a hotel will be.  Admittedly you do probably take more of a risk choosing this option as they will not come with the plethora of reviews that one will find for hotels which have been usually established for years and decades.  However, there are a couple of reliable websites that will give you some reviews that are usually very thorough and provide lots of pictures and details so that you can make an informed decision about where you choose to stay.

There are two companies that we used in order to secure our bed and breakfast, and although there are others available online and I plan to write reviews on the other I mentioned in this article I will only give a review of the ones I actually used which includes:

airbnbFunctions much like a social media community that focuses on everything traveling accept flight purchasing.  While securing accommodations is its primary purpose it also provides you with information and options to purchase experiences along the way.  I have yet to purchase any tours from there so this review will be mainly on my experience using them for accommodations.  I just recently booked a room for national travel, but will have to update you about that experience later on.  Airbnb is a good place to start because it is like a well established neighborhood, it has been in this space for a while now and as a result have lots of options for you to choose from.  The pricing is fair just make sure that you read the sites thoroughly the price for the actual room is one thing and that can be alluring but these services also include other fees that can drive your overall price up higher then the per day quote.  However, you will know before you pay what you will owe.  They also take the money out immediately after you reserve the location.  Another excellent feature of using this platform is you have access to the host before and obviously after you secure your accommodations to ask them whatever questions you need.  This operates much the way e-mail does so it is fairly self explanatory.  Get updates through the Airbnb app on your phone.  As soon as your host has sent you a message it will come directly to your phone.  Giving you real time information as needed for your trip.

Recently Airbnb has made some changes to its privacy policy as well as security policy.  Host’s can request pictures of your personal information such as government issued identification (i.e. drivers license).  In my opinion this information should not be required, however, you have to decide for yourself whether or not this is a deal breaker.  Not all hosts require this additional information so shop around and you may find some that don’t, with a price you’re willing to pay.

A note on security, like ebay and any other platform that relies on positive feedback to continue to thrive, Airbnb operates much the same way.  People typically leave feedback when they have stayed in these places and rest assured if its not a new listing and people have stayed there with a complaint this spot will be the first place they make known their problems.  Be mindful when you read though of the age or purpose of the visit if this information is provided by the one giving a review.  For instance, a couple may be looking for different things then a few college students on vacation backtracking through Israel.  Their assessment of a property will not necessarily measure up to the experience you desire to have.  So try to find reviews if available that are very detailed and specifically take in consideration the date of their stay especially if multiple reviews are listed, and details like if this was a couple, a family, or a college students review.  This will help give you a balanced view of the review so that you can book with your eyes wide open.  I personally won’t stay in a place that has no photos available for me to view.  I also will not book if the only pictures are pictures of the surrounding area, you will find pictures of what might be views from the property, but none of the property.

Also, always be sure to read the cancellation policy and the house rules before you book. Another important point to consider is make sure that when searching criteria that you specify if you have a preference concerning sharing a space, renting a private room, or entire home.  There are some really good prices out there no matter which you choose but if you are looking for a space that will accommodate two people and it is a 6 bedroom apartment for $20.00 for instance then more then likely this is for a private room in a house rather then you having the entire house.  This is not necessarily a problem, just be aware that this may mean sharing a bathroom with someone else, and if you don’t have a private key to your room could also be a security concern.  Whenever we have booked we have been sure to look specifically for properties rented as “entire home/apartment” and my review is based on renting an entire space.


ebc3273565b5e682ccaf01872d2e046749306442If you’re not completely sold out on doing a bed and breakfast then booking.com is an excellent resource to consider.  This will not limit you to bed and breakfast properties, but will allow you to shop a whole host of different properties from hotels, resorts, airbnb’s, or whatever is available to be rented you can pretty much get.  Functioning more like Expedia or like many commercial online travel sites this website allows for you to see all the options available in a given area with whatever your criteria is from price range to ratings.  Another great feature is many of the properties that you search from here do not require payment for reservations and typically will offer more flexible cancellation policies.  Booking also unlike Airbnb does not provide an option for renting a room for an apartment as far as I have seen the entire space was rented out which means you don’t have to concern yourself with the possibility of renting a space that has unexpected strangers sharing your common areas.  However, as far as bed and breakfast properties go you won’t find quite as many as you will with Airbnb so I would highly recommend that you shop both before making your final decision.

Also, Booking.com also offers a phone app that will help you to keep track of any of your reservations and make changes as necessary with your own secure account much like Airbnb your personal information is kept safe and secure.  Rest easy knowing that your vacation is booked and there is nothing left for you to do but to pack and go.
The Critique is working on a comprehensive video that will give you step by step instructions and is available with workbook that will show you how to get the most out of your Holy Land trip at an affordable price.  Under The Jerusalem Sun will be a must have item for planning a trip to the Holy Land and with a video download price of $20 you can’t beat it, or purchase a bundle and get the downloadable workbook that includes fill in the blank checklists and worksheets to make each step of the process easy to follow, order the bundle for only $39.99.  Unfortunately, the documentary is not ready, but will be soon.

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Gett Taxi – Israel

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gettaxiA must have app to have in areas that the train doesn’t go in after 7pm.  Straight forward, pay before they arrive and you can schedule in advance.  A safe, and excellent way to meet people indigenous to the area.  The rate is much more reasonable then haggling with regular taxi drivers.  I want to be charged a fair price for fair work and that’s what I got.  Depending on where you are traveling Get Taxi also provides you the option of paying a flat fee or “by the meter”.  In remote areas usually the only option available is “by the meter”.  Personally, this is a wild card for me because if you aren’t sure what the distance is from the location you are picked up at to the location you are going to you cannot estimate whether or not you are getting a good rate or not.  Sources online state that “by the meter” is best because Israel has a set rate that they can charge so this is allegedly regulated.  However, depending on the distance you could come out better using the flat fee.  Besides which if you’re like me I like knowing before I go what I am going to pay.  It gives me peace of mind and I can already have the money available in hand before we exit.  Don’t like surprises.  Also, I do like the fact that the money is taken out automatically with Gett taxi from your account through the third party vendor.  This means you can just get out, get your things and leave.

Also in Israel it is not customary to tip, so you pay in advance and go, and if you would like to pay a tip Gett taxi offers you that option as well. That’s what I call a sweet ride.

Beware, however the cons to this is if you are in an area with too few taxi services which we found to be the case in Nazareth. We never got a taxi even though we booked two hours in advance.  In Yeruham (pronounced Yerocham) service appeared to be available coming from larger areas only like Dimona, but the problem is Yeruham is virtually a new community area that doesn’t have street addresses properly posted so you run the risk of not being found. This is only a problem if you are carrying lots of luggage and traveling to a bus stop roughly a quarter of a mile away. Moral of that story if staying in Yeruham I suggest car renting or travel lite. Bus system however in Yeruham is regular, convenient, and is ALWAYS cheaper no matter what city you are in in Israel or Palestine. Also beware Gett taxi does have a lot of hidden fees to consider. If purchasing in advance there is an additional cost, 4.80 shekel, if you are late to your pick up additional cost, and if you have lots of luggage requiring assistance with additional cost. Biggest issue these additional fees other than the advance set up is not made known to you upfront. However when traveling in Israel/Palestine this is a convenient option, while again not most inexpensive, but you have lesser margin of error then you do if you travel public transit. As traveling outside of Jerusalem area by bus insures greater possibility your bus driver won’t speak English. This could mean you missing your stop if you’re not able to find signs in English, which is more frequent the case if traveling beyond the city.  These factors, plus the ability to pay in advance via credit card and know in advance the main fee by Gett taxi made this a great option where available.

Overall, where available Get taxi is an excellent tool to use even with the hidden fees.  It’s customized features include deciding what type of taxi service you use along with the ability to take a private taxi or a shared taxi also called in Israel a Sherut.  Shared taxi’s with get taxi will be based on availability and clearly will be a more affordable option where available. Due to the complex nature of renting a vehicle this may be the next best option where public transportation is not available.