32 » OpenRoad Driver W H E R E O U R R O A D TA K E S YO U Three Days in Israel Words and photos by Chris and Rick Millikan The Holy Land has long attracted travelers. Years ago, a cruise ship and its excursions introduced us to Israel’s intriguing culture. Treasured memories inspire our recent return aboard Viking Star. Rather than revisit Palestinian Bethlehem and Jesus’ birthplace, this time we head towards Jerusalem first. Boarding our motorcoach, guide Mordecai welcomes us with, “Shalom!” Exiting the country’s largest port, he interprets the cityscape, “Ashdod’s modern neighbourhoods reflect our new prosperity. Israel thrives today by developing high tech products like computer software, SIM cards for cell phones, water purification systems and advanced security programs.” Rolling onward, we behold Samson and King David’s homeland. Vineyards, grain and cotton fields, olive and date groves all still flourish along the Judaic plain. The highway gradually winds upward between two notable hilltop villages. We discover one boasts a synagogue shared by Jews and Christians. The other, Abu Ghosh, is an Arab community that supported Israel’s birth in 1948. We learn little-known trivia as an aside: it became Israel’s hummus capital by setting a Guinness Record for consumption. Just below ancient terraced hillsides, we spy a 9/11 memorial, a compassionate response to others suffering terrorism.