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Tuesday, June 29, 2021

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!

No doubt, 2020 and 2021 have been difficult times to travel, especially internationally, and maybe you aren't yet ready to jump on a plane to explore the world. Now you can get feed your wanderlust from home using the new Amazon Explore for Prime members. Amazon Explore is an interactive live streaming service that lets you learn, shop and discover new places right from your computer.  LTD took advantage of an introductory code which made our experience in Old Town Jerusalem free (NOTE this offer has expired)!

The experiences are extensive and include options from Culture & Landmarks, Food & Drink, Learning & Creativity, Wellness & Beauty, Events & Entertainment, Nature & Outdoors and even Personal Shopping - FROM AROUND THE WORLD.

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
Our guide Eliav was right on time and what a great place to start!

What About Locations?

Amazon Explore experiences are available from hosts around the world — Australia, Canada, European Union, Israel, Central America, South America, Asia, UK and the USA. To fine tune the experience for what you want at the start of the tour, share with your host what you’re interested in and what to skip. See our favorites below!


You need a laptop or desktop computer with an up-to-date browser (Chrome, Safari, Edge, or Firefox), a high-speed internet connection of at least 5 mbps (you can test yours by typing the phrase ”test my speed” in any search browser), a microphone and speakers to communicate with your host. You can opt to not use a microphone where there would be no interaction with a host, but we prefer the interactive tour.  Phones and tablets are NOT supported yet.


Search experiences on the Amazon Explore page. Once you have chosen an experience there are several dates and times to schedule.  We didn't find it difficult at all to book.  We checked out and paid right way.  You can cancel or reschedule your appointment up to 24 hours before the session begins. We were able to add this to our calendar when we booked and an email was sent to remind us of our session about 48 hours before. Click the link provided in your email to take you to "Your Sessions" page when you are ready to join.  We recommend logging on about 10 minutes early to test your connection. Prompts will ask you to test your microphone and audio.  The countdown clock switches to a cue to join live when your guide is ready to begin. 

Our experience:

We received one email reminding us of our scheduled event and clicking on that email took us directly to the Amazon Explore page.  The directions to test our microphone and sound system provided were simple to follow.  Since we had to use a computer, we elected to cast our screen to our large screen television which was easy and allowed us to tour in comfort.  We would love some more in depth instruction on how to operate the interface better.  Our guide gave us some instruction and reminders at the beginning such as asking questions, taking photos, and pointing out interesting sites that we wanted to learn more about (we will mention these in more detail below).  

The technical issue we had was that we zoomed the image projected by our guide to 2X, which was evident in the lower right of the interface.  We tried everything that Safari/Mac allows to zoom out, but this was clearly and interface issue and not our Mac.  But nonetheless, we still were able to see everything because our guide was great at centering the images, so objects weren't out of screen.  We could see the full screen he was framing by taking a photo.  At times, due to poor connection (his or ours, we think his because he told us when this would happen) 

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
There were some connectivity problems and we could not get the platform to go back from 2X to actual size. 

The tour was amazing and even though we have been to Jerusalem twice, it was a completely different experience.  We learned more about the division of the ethnic quarters of the Old Town, the city walls and construction of the temple.  What was most noticeable to us was the relative lack of tourists!  Do you ever feel smothered by other tourists when you visit a new place?  COVID-19 has really changed that!  For example, look at our visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulcre that unmanageable in 2018 and compare it to our recent virtual visit! Details are so much easier to see and enjoy!

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
Our visit to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in 2018 (Left) and Virtually with Eliav in 2021 (Right)

Our guide was good at summarizing what we would see, interacting with us and guaging our interest and desires for our tour.  We chose a historical perspective and Eliav delivered entwining ancient to recent history effortlessly.

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
Eliav pointing to what we will visit

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
The Jaffa Gate

Here was what we saw

We started next to the Jaffa Gate and learned a lot about the great Suleman Walls built in 1542. After passing through the Jaffa Gate (1 of 7 gates) we learned how the walls were built. The two graves of Suleiman’s architects, who failed to include Mount Zion and the old City of David within the walls are located just inside the Jaffa Gate. Suleiman decapitated the men and buried them there. We walked to reach King David Tower and saw the phases of construction as evidenced by different stone levels. The Cardo was Jerusalem‘s main street 1500 years ago and we viewed it from above and enjoyed watching locals enjoying the site just like Romans would have millennia ago.  

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
The Cardo

The Cardo was originally paved in the 2nd century when Hadrian rebuilt Jerusalem as a Roman polis called Aelia Capitolina. The Cardo was extended south to the area of today’s Jewish Quarter in the 6th century by the Byzantine Emperor Justinian. In its day, The Cardo was an exceptionally wide colonnaded street running through the heart (or cardo) of the city on a north-south axis, connecting many of Byzantine Jerusalem’s major institutions.  Parallel rows of columns supported a red ceramic tile roof and an arcade ran along, at least part of its eastern side. 

As we walked through the Armenian Quarters, we learned about the unique Armenian history and why they are there in the Old City of Jerusalem. We will pass by the Armenian Church, saw the unique architecture and symbolism of the Armenian Quarter.  Next to the Jewish Quarter, where we started with the Broad Wall, which we had never seen before. This mighty wall, twenty feet thick and ten feet high in places, was commissioned by King Hezekiah of the Kingdom of Judah in the eighth century BCE, part of an ambitious plan to bolster the city's defenses in the wake of the Assyrian conquest of the northern kingdom of Israel.  

The Broad Wall was made of the Gray Stones at the Bottom Right

Next we reached the Wailing Wall, also known as the Western Wall of the Old City. Eliav gave a great history on the Wailing Wall but oriented us to the full extent of the Western Wall and what portion is actually the "Wailing Wall". Let's just say the Wailing Wall is part of the Western Wall but the Western Wall is not necessarily the Wailing Wall.  He told us who can visit the Temple Mount and its mosque.  All visitors are able to tour the compound.  Non-Muslims are not permitted to enter the Dome of the Rock or Al-Aqsa Mosque. 

What a great view of the Temple Mount and Wailing Wall

We have never seen the David Market so empty!

And finally, we walked through the David Market (which was empty due to COVID!) to reach The Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Eliav stood outside where the reception was good to give us a very detailed history of the magnificent church and because it was not very crowded, was able to give us close up views of crosses carved on the doors and even the elaborate doors, including the locks that secure the church during the nighttime hours. Alas, we had to say goodbye after 1.5 hours.  Eliav was amazing and gave us the extra time needed to see this magnificent and historical city in more detail than one hour would allow!

Entering the Area of our Final Stop

A perfect view of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Eliav pointing out crosses carved into the columns of the Church of the Holy Sepulchre

Looking at the remarkable door locks and the 

A monk in a hurry!

Dome over Stone of Anointing

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
Stone of Anointing (unedited) with Mosaic

Review of Amazon Explore (Beta): Old Town Jerusalem: Visit the Wailing Wall, The Holy Sepulchre Church and More!
Alas, we had to say goodbye to Eliav!

Some tours we would love to do...

Needs of Amazon Explore

1. Instructions on operating the interface ahead of time and not by the guide.  The guides should be able to assist real time and therefore need instructions, but we would like to be able to spend sometime ahead making sure we understand operating the interface so not to waste our paid time with guide. 

2. Opportunity to gift Explore sessions - yes you can give a gift card that allows this, but we mean specific sessions.

3. Television interface

4. Ability to tip the guide - we believe this would incentivize guides even more than reviews

5. Two-way video interaction

6. Interactive map of guide's location

7. Message host before and/or after session to set expectations, interests or ask follow-up questions

8. Group sessions (let's have an Amazon Explore party!)

The Bottom Line:

In this day and age of connectivity, amidst a global pandemic, it's no surprise that Amazon would provide virtual tours to Prime Members.  This is not a new concept, but the one-stop shopping provided by Amazon makes this easy.  The feedback provided by other members will be helpful and we expect that Amazon will perfect this platform in the future to make the performance, experience and specifics even better.  We look forward to seeing what comes of this Beta trial.  Thank you so much to our guide, Eliav, for making our session everything we hoped for and more! 

Thursday, June 17, 2021

Review of Sherpani Soleil AT Multi-Way Anti Theft Bag as Backpack, Tote, Shoulder or Crossbody

Hey everyone how’s it going?!  We’re so happy you’re joining us today!  A backpack or crossbody equipped with various features that protect your belongings from criminals is an ideal bag for daily use and definitely traveling. The AT collection from Sherpani  have features that help in safeguarding their bags. 

The Soleil AT bag has all of these features like zipper locks, anti-slash bottom and strap, chair loop lock system and RFID protection but it has so much more.

Before we get started we wanted to remind you that all proceeds from our channel go to charity.  Please help GIVE by visiting our sponsors, subscribing to our YouTubechannel, commenting or following us at Facebook.  We really appreciate your support!  We have loads of videos about meaningful locations around the world, great travel hacks and useful travel gear, like what we’re gonna show you today.  

As we love to say, your vacation isn’t going to be what you expect if you get RIPPED OFF!  Thats where the Sherpani Soleil Anti-Theft bag that we’re gonna review today, comes in…We love this bag for its versatility and look! I will drop a link to buy this bag in the post below and remember that proceeds from links like this go to charity! So let’s get to it!

In today’s world most of us are carrying items that we probably feel are indispensable.  Things like wallets, debit and credit cards, passports and of course our smartphones and other electronics. Anything we can use to keep these items secure is pretty important to me and that’s why we always use antitheft bags.  In this post we'll go over 

  1. General Features
  2. Anti-theft Features
  3. Pockets
  4. Cons

In this post you can see our full video review by clicking the photo below or jump to specific parts of the video by clicking on our links throughout the post. 

General Features

This bag can be carried three different ways!  As a backpack, a crossbody or a tote! That’s great so you don’t have to bring too many bags with you on vacation.