Hello again, blog!

It’s been too long. We’ve been putting more content on instagram (https://www.instagram.com/ptrotto/) but I hope to add more to here, soon! Some updates: Ezra is in high school and Zoe is in middle school – I KNOW! Time flies! AND they grew so much during Covid lockdown … stay tuned for more photos. We’ve missed our blog!

I would be remiss if I didn’t have some Eiffel Tower pix, of course – and more shots of Paris light on buildings.

On a side note I have to say, my two kids were just amazing about walking 28,000 plus steps a day and trying on all sorts of new and exotic foods while we walked.  They are so much fun to travel with… already can’t wait to do it again!  IMG_2533IMG_2545IMG_2553IMG_2554IMG_2572IMG_2573IMG_2574IMG_2575IMG_2576IMG_2577IMG_2579

More scenes from Paris..

Somehow miraculously the rain that week stopped for us so we could walk and explore.  We got to spend some time around the Grand Palais and the Louvre.  Even in colder weather, the grounds of the Grand Palais were inspiring.  The Louvre was – as always – really crowded, but fun to mill around.   And we found king cakes (galette des rois) in shops everywhere to start off the new year right.  The kids were truly delighted to discover a Perrier fountain in the middle of a public square where we could continuously fill our water bottles with Perrier.  I’m not even lying!



ahhh more gorgeous light!


Here it is the end of the month and I still have photos of our trip from 2019 to share!  While we had more than a ‘stop over’ in Paris (we stayed a couple nights) it didn’t feel like enough time to see it all.  But taking in the gorgeous painter’s ‘light’ that everyone told me about, and the super romantic architecture everywhere… I can see why my husband wanted me to see this city so bad.  The kids loved it too.  Our first night was about settling into our cute Airbnb and then walking around the 10th arrondissement. We got there in the afternoon but the sun seemed to set in Paris at about 4 and then didn’t rise again until 9 a.m!  Zoe seized the opportunity to wear her favorite sparkly beret as soon as she could, and was happy to learn that macarons are gluten free!


Jordan and Petra

Wow .. I must admit, this part of our trip just blew my mind.  It reminded me of when I’ve traveled to less touristed rural areas of India (which I love!)  And frankly if we had more time,  we could’ve hiked around and found so much more.  But it’s a lot of terrain to cover.  It was amazing to learn that Bedouin communities still live in these caves – and the erosion of the stone around here is so beautiful; revealing so many differing colors of minerals.  At first it seemed crowded with tourists but then after hiking around for hours, I had moved beyond the ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’ feeling and this mystical place took on a whole new meaning of its own.


glorious Treasury at Petra!


People do still live here in the caves


camels galore!



Jordanian flag waving proudly by this monumental site



cousin Tali examines the foot of an ancient and worn statue



cousin Jake gets bit while getting a selfie near a camel ; )


Zoe keeps her distance



carrying his drum sticks, even into a cave in Jordan!


look at all that patterns in that stone –



and in the end, a stop for rose water treats and lunch in a restaurant nearby

I don’t even know what to say because it’s almost more rewarding just to enjoy the sprawling desert scenes/photos … which at times reminded us of canyons in the States (only different in that they were so ripe with archeological finds that are so much older.)  Makhtesh is not quite a ‘crater’ but filled with wildlife like these sweet and unafraid ibex who approached us in the park.  The makhtesh is named after a beloved Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon – who perished in the space mission Columbia.  Solomon’s Pillars and the Mushroom Rock are grand and otherworldly themselves.. it was yet another beautiful day of hiking at least 20 thousand steps over rocks and sand!



‘camel rock’ really looks like a camel !


friendly critters are usually out at dusk and sunrise



Solomon’s Pillars… so majestic!



these cuties; always ready to pose



the famed ‘mushroom rock’

Some of the most exciting leg of our trip happened in these places… especially according to the kids! Needless to say – floating in the Dead Sea is the biggest hit for kids.  We loved the healing mud and other-worldly float on water that is made of up at least 1/3rd salt and minerals.  We also learned how one would farm in the desert, and tasted the world’s greatest tomatoes and berries.  And Mount Masada – amazing!  The kids’ heads were stuffed with stories of King Herod, Cleopatra and Mark Anthony to name just a few .. and it’s amazing to me how much ancient proof of existence lies everywhere.  The smartest cistern and public water system exists here as well..



Zoe watches people walk up, from the comfort of the tram


atop Masada and the blue Dead Sea in the background




the gang’s all here!


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a dip and mud bath in the Dead Sea..


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so much hard layering of salt


best tasting berries ever…


the trick is to grow them OVER the sand



I now have new ideas on how to tame our tomato growth!

By night we did a quick run to the Christian Quarter to see the Church of the Holy Sepulchre and the Christian Quarter.   The site was packed .. and it was hard to move around .. but this mix of Greek Orthodox and Armenian church architecture was fascinating.  By dark we made our way back to the Wailing Wall and got a glimpse over the city while walking back to our hotel…



While we had some cold, drizzly weather to start –  the clouds did eventually part and we had some delightful sunshine while starting our tour of Jerusalem and the Jewish Quarter.  What a fascinating city of history and culture.  By the time we got to the wailing wall with grandma and grandpa (the folks who catalyzed this trip in the first place) the sun and blue sky made an appearance for us.  It was so moving to be at the wall as several generations of Jewish family… grandparents, parents and kids.   When we walked around on our own – we found winding little streets where neighbors repurposed their recyclables and made charming art on their front gates and homes.  And the kids loved trying on the food at the Old City muslim market before Shabbat – we learned that Jewish tradition teaches that the pomegranate is a symbol of righteousness (because it is said to have 613 seeds, which corresponds with the 613 mitzvot, or commandments, of the Torah.)  No wonder there’s pom juice and seeds everywhere!  IMG_2154IMG_2157IMG_2164IMG_2165


more cats snoozing in market stalls…



moving moments at the Western Wall with grandma


Ezra and grandpa leave a note..



feasting on pomegranate seeds


Tel Aviv and Jaffa

This crazy, fun, warm city built out of desert – filled with frenetic markets and halva, dried fruits, pickles and nuts, and the oldest history and most beautiful Ottoman era culture and architecture.  We had our first taste of shawarma here and .. did I mention the halva?  It’s everywhere, and that made me very very happy …



market full of yummy olives and options


halva or halvah or halwa – any way you slice it, I love it!



apparently Ben-Gurion use to like to do handstands on the beach, as does Zoe!



before and after photo showing that Jaffa truly stands on desert



I love these outdoor boxes that keep the menorah glowing for all to see



more halva!


spice towers at the market


these folks don’t mess around with their love of pomegranates



a cat snoozes at a Yemenite jeweler’s studio