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Israel, Jordan, and Egypt 2011 (Part 1 of 2)

 

13 days: September 16, 2011 to September 28, 2011

My Middle East Tour of Isreal Jordan EgyptThis was a faith-based tour with Globus named "Through the Ages: Israel, Jordan & Egypt"   http://globusjourneys.com/product.aspx?trip=1TU

 

Before the Trip

DAY 1 and Day 2 Friday September 16  Arrival in Tel Aviv, Israel on Saturday September 17

DAY 3  Sunday September 18  Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Latrun, Valley of Elah, Jerusalem

DAY 4 Monday September 19  Jerusalem, Garden Tomb, Excursion to Ein Karem and to Bethlehem

DAY 5  Tuesday September 20 Jerusalem, Excursion to the Old City

DAY 6  Wednesday September 21 Jerusalem, Masada, Eilat

Day 7 to Day 13 - Go to Jordan and Egypt portion (PART 2) of the Trip Journal

Go to the end of Part 1

 

Before the Trip

 

In 2002, Mom & Dad and I went to the Holy Land Experience, in Orlando, Florida http://www.holylandexperience.com/ and now I had an opportunity to actually get them to the real Holy Land.  In the summer of 2010, my church had a meeting about a Lands of the Bible Cruise with Educational Opportunities lead by our church Pastor.  Wow!  It look perfect for Mom and Dad   A day touring Jerusalem and you get see the pyramids.    I sent them information.  I also sent info to brother and sister.  Here's the perfect itinerary:

http://www.eo.travelwithus.com/find_trip/results.aspx?c=114

 

Lands of the Bible Cruise via the Norwegian Jade

Starting from $2,798

This Trip Visits: Egypt  Israel (Holy Land)  Italy  Turkey

Friday Nov. 4 - Departure 

Sat Nov. 5 - Ancient Rome

Arrive in Rome and begin your tour of Ancient Rome. History is woven through the streets and neighborhoods of Rome as in no other city. Today you'll explore the many wonders of ancient Rome when you visit the magnificent Coliseum. From the most sacred hill of ancient Rome, Campidoglio, you'll view the Forum. You'll also view the Circus Maximus, Mamertine Prison, and the Arch of Titus, the famous Baths of Caracalla and the Arch of Constantine. You'll see the Victor Emanuel Monument and the Monti Region, Rome's most ancient neighborhood which spreads over three of her seven hills. Board our ship this afternoon.

Sun Nov. 6 - Day at Sea

Mon Nov. 7 - Day at Sea

Tues Nov. 8 - Alanya, Turkey

The Aspendos amphitheater, known for its outstanding acoustics, is extremely well preserved and still in use today for special events. Nearby is Perge, a Hellenistic city where Paul preached (Acts 14: 25). The ruins of a large stadium, baths, and a tomb give ample evidence of its former greatness. Paul and Barnabas visited here on their first journey. 

Wed Nov. 9 - Cyprus

The first visit on Paul's first journey was the island of Cyprus. Barnabas and John Mark accompanied Paul on this part of the journey and the three preached the word of God on the island in the synagogues of the Jews (Acts 13:4-5). Today you will arrive in Limassol, Cyprus a modern port. From here you will continue on to ancient Paphos where Paul and Barnabas brought the gospel to the Roman proconsul Sergius Paulus and were resisted by the sorcerer known as Bar-Jesus (Acts 13:6-12).

Thurs Nov. 10 - Haifa

Your cruise ship docks in the port of Haifa. Travel inland to the Sea of Galilee. Much of the Gospel is centered around the Sea. You'll stand on the Mount of the Beatitudes where Jesus gave his most famous sermon (Luke 6:12-49). At Tabgha, the traditional location for the calling of the disciples and the feeding of the 5000, you'll visit the Church of the Fish and the Loaves (Luke 9:10-17). Visit the Chapel of the Primacy where three times Peter professed his devotion to the risen Christ (John 21). Travel to the shore town of Capernaum where Jesus called Peter, Andrew, James, John (Matt 4:13) and later Matthew. Stop by the River Jordan where those who wish to be baptized may do so.

Fri Nov. 11 - Ashdod

Dock in the port of Ashdod. Travel to Jerusalem and visit the Upper Room, the traditional site of the Last Supper. Visit the House of the High Priest Caiaphas, where Jesus was tried before the Sanhedrin. Stand upon the Mount of Olives and view the city as Jesus did. Wander among the olive trees of the Garden of Gethsemane. Enter the Old City and visit the Pool of Bethesda. You'll walk along the Via Dolorosa to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Continue on to the Western Wall to pray before returning to the ship. (Lunch will be on your own today.)

Sat Nov. 12 - Cairo

Begin your tour of Cairo with a visit to the Egypt Museum which houses the King Tut treasures and many other artifacts from Egypt's long history. Visit the Great Pyramids of Giza, the last remaining ancient wonder, built before Moses and the Israelites were even in this ancient land.

Sun Nov. 13 - Alexandria

Dock in Alexandria, founded in 331 BC by Alexander the Great. See the site of the ancient library, lighthouse, and Pompey's Pillar during your tour of Alexandria. Visit the catacombs and enjoy time to explore the old city. This evening set sail for Rome.

Mon Nov. 14 - Day at Sea

Tues Nov. 15 - Day at Sea

Wed Nov. 16 - Rome and Return to the USA

 

In August, 2010 I signed up.  Judy also signed up to be my roommate.  In September I signed up Mom&Dad.  Paul&Stef have already been to Israel twice, but since the parents were going, they also signed up.  Paul visited the parents over Thanksgiving and they seemed a little concerned about traveling to that part of the world.  They had good reason because in January 25-29, 2011 the revolution occurred in Cairo.  We were probably not going to go to Giza to see the pyramids.  EO said they would substitute Istanbul instead of Cairo.  I was not going to be happy with that, but whatever. 

Dad and T were checking The U.S. State Department travel warnings and travel alerts for U.S. citizens http://travel.state.gov and they were getting nervous. It was not meant to be.  In June, 2011 I cancelled everyone.

 

From:  Suzanna Travels 
To:  MistyT
Date:  05/31/2011 04:05 PM
Subject:  Please cancel 6 Morris reservations
Misty,  I talked to all the members of my family, and everyone is in agreement that it would be best if we cancelled our plans to go on the November 4 departure Lands of the Bible Cruise.  Can you please cancel reservations for the 6 members in our reservation.

Since we are cancelling more than 121 days before departure, I understand that all monies paid to date will be refunded except for $90 per person administrative fee. 

I am so sorry for the inconvenience.  I hope to make it Israel and Cairo some day. Maybe next year..

 

Suzanna Travels

web site:www.mytrips.com

---------------------------------------------------------------------------- 

From: Misty T
To: Suzanna Travels
Sent: Wed, June 1, 2011 8:17:39 AM
Subject: Lands of the Bible Cruise Cancellation

Please accept this as confirmation that the passengers listed below were all cancelled as of yesterday, May 31, 2011. The refund for each passenger will be issued back in the same form that payment was originally received and you can expect the refunds in about 2-3 weeks.

Please let me know if I can assist you with anything else.

 

Misty T
Passenger Services Educational Opportunities

 

Oh no - This was in the news on Sunday November 6, 2011 - it might jeopardize the cruise:

Israel strike to shut down airports, ports, banks on Monday

Nov 6, 2011

http://www.firstpost.com/fwire/world-fwire/israel-strike-to-shut-down-airports-ports-banks-on-monday-124839.html

Israel's main labour union plans a strike that would shut airports, ports, banks and the stock market starting on Monday after talks with the government failed to produce an agreement over the status of workers employed through labour contractors.

The Histadrut Labour Federation, the umbrella organisation for hundreds of thousands of public sector workers, said the strike would begin at 0600 (0400 GMT) on Monday and would also include trains, buses, universities, government ministries and municipalities.

Israel's Ben Gurion International Airport near Tel Aviv will close at 0800 local time.

The strike will be unlimited and only a court injunction will prevent it, Ofer Eini, the head of the Histadrut, told Israel's Army Radio on Sunday.

The Histadrut wants the government to hire some 250,000 contract workers, who have inferior working conditions than civil workers directly on government payrolls.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called on the Histadrut to cancel the planned strike, which would wreak havoc on travellers and commuters.

I believe it is possible to find a responsible and just solution for the issue of temporary laborers (supplied by employment agencies), Netanyahu said on Army Radio.

We must bring a solution that will not harm the Israeli economy at a time when there is a global shake-up in all the world's economies, he said. There is no need to disrupt the lives of Israelis. We must not risk what we have achieved with much work.

Talks over the weekend failed to find an agreement, although Finance Ministry officials agreed that employment terms of contract workers need to improve.

Israel's labour court is expected to decide whether to issue an injunction against a strike later on Sunday.

 

I called NCL on November 15 and found out that the ship did NOT dock at Ashdod!  They stayed an extra night in Haifa instead.  I talked to Jim M. who lead the trip - they said that they saw Jerusalem, but it was a very long day because of the longer drive from that port.  They had to skip some things like the Garden of Gethsemane.  They DID GO to Cairo and Alexandria.  He said they had an "unpleasant" experience with paying for riding camels at the pyramids.   It's a shame when locals ruin

 

So the Holy Land cruise was canceled for my family. I was bummed.  So, then I was looking at a trip with Jim Reimann, a Bible Study teacher

10-day Bible-teaching pilgrimage to Israel with 3-day pre-tour option to Jordan, including Petra & Mt. Nebo  http://jimreimann.com/holy-land-tours/  October 31 to Nov 9, 2011. 

Cost is $6780 ($4500 + $1200 (Jordan). SS is $1080)

http://israel-travel.net/ has some good options, also check out http://www.goisrael.com/Tourism_Eng/Pages/home.aspx and www.holytravel.com

Then I looked at one of my favorite tour companies: Globus.  They had:

Through the Ages: Israel, Jordan & Egypt - Faith-Based Travel  (TU)

http://globusjourneys.com/Travel-Tour-Packages/Reservations/Vacation-Search/

12 days from Tel Aviv to Cairo, or 13 days incl. travel

Starting at: $3,329.00 (not including round-trip airfare from the US)

Vacation Overview - Explore three fascinating countries in one vacation. Start in Tel Aviv, Israel, and travel via Jaffa and Latrun to Jerusalem, for a 3-night stay. Enjoy an excursion that features Ein Karem; Bethlehem, where a visit to the Church of the Nativity is included; and the Garden Tomb. Explore the Old City during a guided walking tour and follow the Stations of the Cross along the Via Dolorosa to Golgotha. Also visit the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Waling Wall, Mount Zion, and more. Next, visit Masada, and arrive in the resort of Eilat at the Red Sea for an overnight stay. Cross the border into Jordan and enjoy a full day of sightseeing in Petra. Walk down the Siq, made famous in one of the Indiana Jones movies; admire the Treasury; and sip tea in a Bedouin tent. Stop in Kerak to visit the Crusader Castle, Wadi Mujib, Mukawir, Madaba to visit the Archaeological Museum, and Mount Nebo. At your Dead Sea resort you'll have time to take a dip in the heavy water. From Amman, fly to Cairo, Egypt, for a 3-night stay and guided sightseeing including the Egyptian Museum, Memphis, Sakkara, and Giza to see the Sphinx and Great Pyramids. Enjoy a full day at leisure and a farewell dinner to celebrate the success of an unforgettable journey. 

Headsets throughout the tour (except in Jordan for technical reasons).

 

OK, that looked like a plan.  I signed up, fully expecting it to be cancelled because if they can't go to one of the destination locations, then Globus will cancel the entire trip. If they cancel, you get all your money back. 

A few (3 and a half) weeks before departure, Judy psyched herself up to sign up on the same trip. Yeah!  I had great roommate and travel companion.  There is a lot less stress when someone is travel with you.. Well that night Judy stayed up the entire night reading about the Middle East and the 6-day war and the unrest in Egypt.  At 4 am she sent me an email explaining that she did not feel comfortable going.  Oh well.  I was back to paying the single supplement.

My final payment was due on a Wednesday, August 3, 2011.  I call Globus ready with my credit card.  They won't let me pay yet because they are not sure that the trip is going.  I called back on Thursday. Same thing, they don't let me pay yet.  So Friday, 4:50 pm, Globus calls me. They explain that there are only 8 people signed up and the optional excursions might not be available.  OK.  An almost personal tour sounded great to me ,  I gave him my credit card number.  I'm going.

So that weekend, I packed.  I decided to travel light, very light.  Only take a 21-inch carry-on bag. I determined the clothes to pack by washing them in the sink to make sure they would dry by the morning.  If it was still damp after 6 hours, I didn't pack it.

I already had a bunch of Euros.  I didn't have any Shekels so I converted some money at Altour / AMEX - Atlanta.  3384 Peachtree Rd NE, Atlanta GA  30326 (404) 262-7561.  I paid $52.31 USD (that includes a $5. service fee) and got 150. Shekels at a rate of .31541.

About going to Egypt: On April 7, 2011 a bomb exploded 500 from the pyramids injuring 3 peddlers.  Yeah, it might be dangerous...

Our tour information said that we could get the Egypt Visa at the Cairo airport. I didn't want to risk standing in lines so I decided to send my passport up to the Egypt embassy to get my Visa in advance.  I used A CIBT (800-929-2428 www.cibt.com) company Sierer Visa Service (ZVS)  866-956-6528.

They warned me:  Consular Closings - The Embassy of Egypt will be working on a limited schedule during the month of Ramadan between the dates of August 1 and August 29, 2011. Please be advised of possible delays in visa processing.

I paid about $150 USD total (a lot more than the $15 USD cost in Cairo), but that is what you pay for insurance and peace of mind. 

After I returned from my trip, Egypt stopped issuing Visa's at the airport!!!!

 

Egypt tightens visa rules due to security concerns

 CAIRO, Sept 9 | Fri Sep 9, 2011 2:31pm EDT

CAIRO, Sept 9 (Reuters) - Egypt has tightened rules for issuing entry visas to tourists due to security concerns, according to security sources, in a move which tourism officials fear could further damaged their industry.

The Egyptian cabinet said late on Thursday it had decided to cancel the option of obtaining a tourist visa at Egyptian airports to individuals or groups travelling independently.

It said only groups travelling through licensed tour operators would be granted entry visas at Egyptian airports. Others must obtain visas in their home countries before travelling.

"This is a security measure and we have asked for it," one security source said. He could not say if senior officials had requested the step as a precautionary measure or were prompted by "cases of foreigners trying to enter Egypt to conduct illegal actions".

The chairman of Egypt's Tourism Authority, Amr El-Ezaby, told state news agency MENA on Friday the decision would "harm the flow of tourism to Egypt ... and is not understood and its purpose is also not understood".

Tourism, a main pillar of the Egyptian economy, was hit hard after the uprising that toppled President Hosni Mubarak in February but has been recovering slowly since then.

On Thursday, the Egyptian Ministry of Planning said in a statement that tourism revenues in 2010-11 were $10.6 billion down from $11.6 billion in 2009-10.

The decision caused confusion among passengers at Cairo's International airport on Friday, airport sources said.

"The government should have consulted with tourism and airline experts before issuing such a decision ... as tourism and airline companies depend on the ease of issuing entry visas," one airport source said.

(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh and Omar Fahmy, Writing by Yasmine Saleh; Editing by Sami Aboudi)

 

Work was crazy before I left.  We are testing everything trying to get this release of our software to customers.  I had to get the documentation edits entered, because I may not have another chance if we freeze the software when I'm on my trip (that did not happen). 

I was worried about my phone.  I always had ATT service on my Motorola 180 contract phone. I called direct from Sri Lanka, Lhasa Tibet, Delhi India, anywhere in Europe because it is a quad band phone. Well, I switched to a pay-as-you go plan and there is no roaming and the phone can't be unlocked until December (what ?!?).  I was not happy with ATT.  I tried to get an unlock code for my Motorola.  ATT was being very difficult.  They said I had to prove that I bought the phone from them. I had my receipt from 8/19/2005 where it shows that I had paid 69.99 for the phone.  They wanted me to fax them the receipt. Whatever.  I did not get the unlock code before I left so I bought another unlocked Samsung phone in the ATL airport for $150.  I also bought a SIM card.  At least I know that will work.

 

DAY 1 and Day 2 Friday September 16  Arrival in Tel Aviv, Israel on Saturday September 17

GLOBUS Itinerary Time to rest or to start exploring Israel's capital. Enjoy this evening's welcome drink with your traveling companions, hosted by your Tour Director.

 

The departure date came and I was so very ready. I had been packed for weeks. I had double everything: Passport copies, passport photos, addresses, money (US dollars, Euros (left over from other trips) and Israel Shekels. I had a very relaxed morning, put on my travel clothes and I'm off.

I followed my same ritual that I always do:  pick up an egg mcmuffin and Mickey D's. But I don't eat it until I'm sitting in departure gate area.

Driving to the airport, I was so calm. I was confident that I had not forgotten to pack, or prepare anything.  If I did forget something, then I didn't want to remember it then.

 I had made reservations leave my car at Park 'N Fly off airport parking 9/16 to 9/28 covered space $106 USD. 

I had DELTA flights

Fri 16 Sep 2011  73W (Boeing 737-700)     2hours 25minute  flight

Depart  ATL Atlanta, GA - Hartsfield International Airport  1:40 pm

Arrive JFK  New York - John F. Kennedy International Airport 4:05 pm

6 hour Layover

16 Sep 2011  Boeing 747-400                    10 hour 45 minute flight

Depart  JFK 10:25pm

Arrive  TLV Tel Aviv, Israel - Ben-Gurion Airport  4:10pm  Next day 17 Sep 2011

 

I had with me Other Airline flight options in case any of those flights had problems.  I had also printed out the seat layouts from seatguru.com.  On my last flight from Orlando to Atlanta last summer, I was walking to the plane. A Delta person chased me down the walkway and game me a different boarding pass and he made me give up my original boarding pass.  They changed my seat to one that doesn't recline!  I should not have let that happen and I was not going to let that happen again.

 

 

My suitcase fit just fine in the overhead bin.  It is actually smaller than other carry on bags.  And everything that I needed to pack fit in just fine. It is so nice to know I have everything I need with me.  No checked luggage so I have no worries about lost luggage as long as I can keep all my stuff together. I know I will be comfortable.

On the first airplane flight from ATL to JFK I wrote  I really  don't want to start talking to the lady next to me so I'm going to start writing this journal.  This is the last journal that I will ever do.  If I go on that Black sea cruise I'm going for fun ,  and NOT to document the experience (right)

The flight as VERY cramped and very close and every single seat was full.  They have moved all these other seats closer together to allow for more room in the Comfort Economy seats.  No way could I do 10 hours in this seat. On the JFK to TLV (10 hour) flight I paid an extra $120 USD for a Comfort Economy seat.

I got to JFK  where I have a 6 hour layover.  I found the Delta Sky Club. It was crowded. The seats were tight and close. I really did enjoy not talking to anyone. I ate my sandwich that had leaked all over the bottom of my bag. I'm glad I put everything in plastic bags.

I called dad from the sky club room. I also talked to T and Paul. Bye, I'm outta here!  

The flight is scheduled to leave at 10:25 so a 9:10 pm they started boarding the plane.

my bottle of water got confiscated in the x-ray before we boarded this flight. oh well.

 They definitely needed all that time to board. 450 people on this plane! They closed the doors at  10:25.

It's a 10 hour flight. Gawd. This extra space that I paid $120 for is definitely worth it.  Yup.

I introduced myself to the people next to me.  Tina and Zach are nice.

 

The dinner on the plane was very delicious. I had the pasta. Other choices are chicken  or kosher. I wonder what that was ,  i should have ordered it. What ever. I'd like just a tad more red wine. They have a bunch of people to service on this flight.

I'm wearing my single-vision glasses and they are going to make me hold my head up so I can see what I'm writing . It's nice to wear no make up, but then I want to rub my eyes and I know I shouldn't touch my face.

I am so looking forward to this trip being over, but then I also have to say that I am so looking forward to getting there.  I love being on my own. Yes, it is more responsibility. And yes, it is a pain to watch everything. But I'm not ready to join the crowd yet.  I'll be ready when I get there.

Oh yeah. I am going to try to come back to reality after this trip. Settle down with less travel, maybe go on a date ?!?. That's a good idea. It has been awhile.

Dang, I know that I'll have to type all this so I'm tending to write less. So be it. I guess I could be typing it now. My Netbook is in my carry on bag. The word processor on my phone it is a bit annoying the way it finishes words. I could not type "pix". It made me type "pics".

So I love the leg room on these seats but the sound jack is awful. All of the music stations have static and cracking.  It is impossible to listen to the movie dialog. Also there is no individual TV/video screen. No HBO, no On Demand. At least I had that on the flights from ATL to JFK. These look like brand new seats. So I'm not getting what I paid for. I wonder if my Am Ex was charged $40 for Sky Club access. I entered my credit card number but had to cancel the check-in because I didn't have my passport number. It should only cost me $25. Access to the Sky Club printed on my boarding passes. So check my am ex bill when I get back.

This is a long flight. I can't imagine how much goes into planning a flight like this. Finally we arrive in Tel Aviv Israel.

About Israel

It is 8130 square miles (about one seventh the size of Georgia. That does NOT include 2,700 square miles of Arab territory - West Bank, Gaza)

Population in 2002 was 6 million, in 2011 7.8 million.   75% Jewish, 20% Arab, 4 other

Arrive in airport, get luggage, go thru customs. 

Flight delays contact Globus at airport (24 hrs) (972) 351-6316 3 .  Emergency only (972) 547-5440 17 or (972) 544-5866 06

 

There is a Globus representative after passport control.  Our group gathers around him.  Everyone is so tired at this point. No one is wanting to start a conversation.  I just have a carry-on bag so I did not have to get luggage.  When everyone has all their luggage the Globus guy takes off walking at a fast pace.  He has obviously done this hundreds of times before.  He did not want to be bothered by any questions or anyone wanting to stop to buy water or change money. That was not going to happen.  He stayed far enough in front of us so we couldn't even shout for him to wait or slow down.  He waited at the elevator for everyone. We made it the transport desk and he left us with the driver.  Globus guy is gone. 

We followed the driver to the van transport.  I watch my bag get loaded. It seemed like a long drive to the hotel.  I was so tired.  We went to the

Leonardo Plaza  155 Hayarkon Street, , Tel Aviv IL , Israel  63453 
Tel (009) 723- 5216 666  Fax (009) 723-5271 065

There was no one at the hotel to greet us and no information is posted for our Globus group in the hotel. It was about 5 pm and I sat in the lobby watching the guy at the bar make these beautiful, colorful, bubbly soda drink concoctions.  Red, yellow, pink.  There they sat on the tray. 

Our small is group is going to have to be resourceful.  We each individually checked in at the front desk. 

My room is very nice!  I went out on my balcony and I see the Tel Aviv Marina and the beautiful Mediterranean Sea. Wow! It is dusk.  The sky is pink.

The Leonado Plaza Hotel was right beside the Tel Aviv Marina. There was a Crown Plaza Hotel next door.

There is a nice beach walk called the Lahat Promenade that goes the entire length of the city along the beached from the North, all the way down to Jaffa.

I look down and I see Tina, the Educational Opportunities lady who was sitting by me on the plane.  She is walking with a gentleman to the restaurant on the promenade.  They looked at the menu and end up just sitting on the bench looking out to the sea.

Around 7 pm, I wander down to the front desk to ask if they know anything about our Globus group.  Daniel, our guide had just arrived to set up our evening meeting. It was a bit disorganized because we didn't know about the meeting.  He got everyone there.  2 couples: Pat&Dave from SC and Bev&Doug from LA, 2 sisters (Sherrie&Debbie), and 2 singles (Jen&me). 8 people total.

The 2-hour old welcome drinks were in the room with some trays of dates and other things to nibble on.

Daniel told us that we can drink the water in all the hotels.  He was not very forth coming with the information because he was planning to inundate us with it the next day.

I had a brief conversation with Jen. She seemed nice.  I mentioned that my family was very concerned that I came on this trip.  She told me that her family did not want her to come on this trip. I find out later that our families were worried for totally different reasons. My family worried about the political environment and her family was worried about her emotional and financial state.

I wandered outside the hotel toward the promenade and saw some people on tour.  We all ended up eating together.

Doug ordered the beef dish.  When it arrived, it was thin slices of raw beef.  The menu said carpatio. Yup, that means tar-tar, raw.  Priscilla learned the hard way not to eat Alpaca carpacio in Peru.  Ohhh doggies, was she sick, sick, sick.  So Bev was very nice urging Doug not to eat it and send it back.  He sent it back. I did not have to tell my Peru story.  I got a very delicious omelet.

Tomorrow we start touring!

Back to Top

 

DAY 3  Sunday September 18  Tel Aviv, Jaffa, Latrun, Valley of Elah, Jerusalem

Itinerary Stop in Jaffa for a walk through the beautifully restored ancient port, where medieval pilgrims started their strenuous 2-day trek to Jerusalem.

Next is strategic Latrun, where you will visit the MONASTERY OF THE TRAPPIST MONKS.

Continue via the wide Valley of Ayalon, the land of the Dan tribe, and the Valley of Elah, site of David's victory over Goliath, to the holy city of Jerusalem, one of the oldest places in the world with a history dating back as far as 4000 BC.

Breakfast and Dinner included today.

Wake up call 7 am.

Departure at 8:30 am. 

We had a small bus/large van for our group of eight.

Isaac is our driver.  He is selling water for $1 a bottle.

I sat in one of the single seats next to the window.  I expected someone else would want the front seat. Nope.  So we're waiting. Waiting. Waiting.  Daniel calls Jen's room.  Waiting. Waiting.  Daniel goes to call again.  She shows up. Dressed very nice in very white pants.  Her excuse was that she couldn't find her belt. Did she really think we would forgive her for being 15 minutes late.  And she didn't find the belt.  She needed the belt.

She looked into the bus where we were all seated and instinctively walked around to the passenger door of the vehicle, opened the door and proceeded to climb in. OK. The bus driver was a little taken aback. But we just wanted to get going. 

So since Jen sat in passenger seat so I jumped into the double seat in the front seat of the bus.

We're going to Jaffa, a suburb of Tel Aviv.  "Tel" means "Hill" and "Aviv" means "old" , so Tel-Aviv is "hill" "old"

This my picture of a photo of Tel Aviv.  Jaffa is in the foreground.

Suzanna Travels to Isreal Tel Aviv Jaffa

We passed a building and Daniel mentioned that is was the American embassy. It's a square building with a round building in the background.  The bus was stopped and I asked Daniel to confirm the building, he told me to wait because he had to say hello to a friend. This friend was on the sidewalk next to the bus. Well, the bus moved and it was too late for me to get a photo of the building. Oh well.  Hopefully I will never have to find out what building it was.

Later Daniel explained that when Israeli's talk, it seems like they are mad but this is just the way they talk.

This is the oldest bakery in Israel.  the awning says ABOUELAFIA since 1879

About Jaffa (aka Yafo)

Located 1 mile south of Tel Aviv

World's oldest port - Archaeological evidence found that Jaffa was inhabited 7,500 years BCE.

Tel Yafo (Jaffa Hill) is only 130 feet high but the accumulation of debris and landfill over the centuries made the hill even higher. There is a wonderful view of the coastline.

Jaffa is mentioned in an Egyptian letter from 1440 BCE. The city was under Egyptian rule until around 800 BCE. In 701 BCE, under Persian rule and after that it remained often in Jewish hands.  King David and his son King Solomon conquered Jaffa and used its port to bring the cedars used in the construction of the First Temple.

Jaffa is mentioned in the Bible (old and new testaments)

Jaffa was one of the cities given to the Hebrew Tribe of Dan (Joshua 19:46)

Jaffa was the port of entry for the cedars of Lebanon for Solomon's Temple (2 Chronicles 2:15)

Jaffa was the place whence the prophet Jonah embarked for Tarshish (Jonah 1:3)

Jaffa was the port of entry for the cedars of Lebanon for the Second Temple of Jerusalem (Ezra 3:7).

St. Peter's resurrection of the widow Tabitha (Acts 9:36-42) takes place in Jaffa.

While Peter was in Jaffa, he had a vision of a large sheet filled with "clean" and "unclean" animals being lowered from heaven, which he interpreted as a signal to accompany messengers from Cornelius to Caesaria. (Acts 10:10-23)

Tabetha school found 1863 St. Tabitha chapel serves the Russian Christian community, with services in Russian and Hebrew. St. Peter's Church was built in 1895 on the site of St. Peter's resurrection of Tabitha. Inside the monastery is the site of the house where St. Tabitha lived with her family.  

Then we passed a Catholic church school and French sign.  We drove by the Jaffa clock tower - built in 1901.

 

Andromeda rock is the rock to which beautiful Andromeda was chained in Greek mythology. 

The Zodiac alleys are a maze of restored alleys leading to the harbor.

 

 The Libyan Synagogue'(Beit Zunana) was a synagogue built by a Jewish landlord, Zunana, in the 18th century. It was turned into a hotel and then a soap factory, and reopened as a synagogue for Libyan Jewish immigrants after 1948. In 1995, it became a museum.  

We're in Jaffa. Here we are getting out of our little bus ready to start our first tour. Jen is smilin' and happy:

 

This whale is artwork by Ilana Goor. Jaffa was the place whence the prophet Jonah embarked for Tarshish (Jonah 1:3). The old city wall is behind the whale. Just to the left of this is a 1740 building - the Ilana Goor Museum and it is also the home of the artist.

I took a picture of sign that says:

City of Old Jaffa,  The Gate to the Ancient World

Zonana Inn was established by Ya'akov Ben David Zonana for the Jewish pilgrims that arrived on boats from Istanbul and other places to Jaffa.  The pilgrims stopped here for rest before the journey to the holy cities and the tomb of the just in the land of Israel.

The Inn operated in this building at the end of the 18th  century and the beginning of the 19th century. It had a lodging place, synagogue, and a ritual bath.

The sign on the side the building in this picture says:

In 1740 the first Jewish hostel in Jaffa was established here which included a synagogue and a "mirve". The synagogue reopened in 1948 by Libyan Jews is still in use.

 

 

The Artists' Quarter is a compact area of old Arab houses and narrow stone alleys.  Now it has studios and galleries.  The Hanging tree is near the Horace Richter Gallery.

OK. Daniel is redeeming himself. Last night the meeting was very brief and he didn't want to tell us anything because he wanted to save all to say on the tours at the appropriate place at the appropriate time.

He told us all about the port of Jaffa.  It was active until 1936. Then the Tel Aviv port took over commercial operations.

Jaffa is ancient and Tel Aviv only 102 years old. Now 400,000 population in Tel Aviv.

We walked to the "Tel Yafo Excavation The Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project

Tel Yafo Excavations

In this area (Area A) the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project is resuming archaeological research, which was conducted from 1955 to 1974 and again during the 1990's by several institutions. The new excavations will provide a better context for the remains previously exposed and open additional areas in order to better understand Jaffa's history during the Middle and Late Bronze Ages (ca 1900-1200 BCI) and the Iron Age (ca. 1200-586 PBE).

The most prominent remains in the area under excavation belong to an Egyptian fortress that lasted from ca. 1460 to 1200 BCE when the New Kingdom Egyptian Empire ruled Canaan. The reconstruction of the door frame decorated with Egyptian Empire hieroglyphs, which bear the name of pharaoh Ramses II, marks the location of the entrance to the Egyptian fortress dating to the thirteenth century BCE. The original fragments are now on display in the Jaffa Museum of Antiquities.

For further information on these excavation and the Jaffa Cultural Heritage Project, please visit the projects web sites

www.antiquities.org.il/jaffa and www.nelc.ucla.edu/jaffa 

These are restored Egyptian gates, about 3,500 years old (ca. 1460 B.C.)

 

Then we go on top of the ancient "tel" (mound) of Jaffa to Abrasha Park to see the Statue of Faith, (aka "Gan ha-Pisga"), Daniel Kafri sculptor.  The statue depicts:

 

 

Next to The Wishing Bridge - An ancient legend holds that your wish will come true if you make it while holding your bronze zodiac sign while looking at the sea. It did!  My wish came true!   I stayed healthy for the duration of the trip.

St. Peters church is the pink building in the background. 

 

About St. Peters Church

       17th century Franciscan Church of St. Peter

    The clergy strongly claim that this is where Napoleon stayed after the capture of the city

    It is a church and hospice built on the remains of a Crusaders fortress; 

    Built 1891 (19th century)

   The sign in front of the church says

Roman Catholic Church
Franciscan Custody of the Holy Land
PO Box 8467 610 Jaffa, Tel-Aviv 03-682 28 71
Masses
Weekdays 6.30 Italian Mass
Saturdays 18.30 Spanish Mass, 20.30 English Mass
Sundays 9.00 English Mass, 18.30 Polish Mass
Every second Sunday German Mass 10.00

 Inside St. Peters

 

We had 30 minutes to walk around in Kedumim Square. I went inside the church.  Sat in front of Jaffa Lighthouse - It is an inactive lighthouse located in the old port

The bus picked us up.

My notes

Tel Aviv - Yaffo (Jaffa)

750,000 is the population of Jerusalem. There are 6 million Jews and 1.5 million Arabs. Most speak Hebrew.

 

    In 1967 Israel took a  lot of land: Gaza, Golan heights, and the West bank.

     In Gaza Israel settled 8000 settlers initially. When they had to give up Gaza, they had to evacuate the settlers.

    In the West bank, there are 2.5 million Palestinians and there are 300,000 Jewish settlers.

All the signs are in Hebrew, Arabic, and English

Education is free until are 18 years old. 

Army duty is compulsory - boys must serve for 3 years and girls for 2 years.  After the army, they maybe go to college. They are in the Reserves ( 1 month a year) until 45 years old.

There are Jewish schools and there are Arab schools.

Israel invented the process of "reverse osmosis".  Within 2 years, Israel will be autonomous for water.

Israel is the first in world to recycle sewage 2/3 of all the sewage is recycled.

We are on highway 431 going to hiway 1  in the Ayalon valley

 

I took pictures of the hills of the West Bank.

Road No. 3 to the trappist monastery in Latrun. Latin for "thief"

Daniel just told us that the 3 days ago, the Israeli embassy was evacuated in Jordan !!!

 

We drove through the Valley of Ayalon (the land of the Dan tribe) and the Valley of Elah (site of David's victory over Goliath)

The Valley of Elah, "the valley of the oak (or terebinth)"  is near Azekah and Socho (1 Samuel 17:1).  The huge terebinth tree is 55 feet height. Its trunk 17 feet in circumference, and its shade more than 75 feet.

     Mentioned in the bible:

     1 Samuel 17:2  Saul and the Israelites assembled and camped in the Valley of Elah and drew up their battle line to meet the Philistines.

     1 Samuel 17:19  They are with Saul and all the men of Israel in the Valley of Elah, fighting against the Philistines.

     1 Samuel 21:9  The priest replied, The sword of Goliath the Philistine, whom you killed in the Valley of Elah, is here; it is wrapped in a cloth behind the ephod. If you want it, take it; there is no sword here but that one. David said, There is none like it; give it to me. 

 

Now we are going up to visit the "Trappist Monastery of Latroun" the sign says "Kindly show respect for the sanctity of this site." 

(this was written in English, French, Hebrew, and Arabic

We are the only tourist here!  Park the bus and sit under a large gazebo where Daniel shows us a map of Israel and the Palentinian areas.

The monument here in the Garden of Brotherhood commemorates three righteous men;  a Christian, a Muslim, and a Jewish rabbi who believed that "Man Shall Live by his Faith".

Three illustrious men, more or less contemporaries, each one sincere in his faith in god, who treated other with respect, even their enemies. They represent moderation

Rashi of Troyes (1040-1105) Great commentar of the Bible and the Talmud

Lived in the eleventh century during a sort of golden age for the Jews of Champagne, cultivation in vine and writing commentaries on the Bible and the Talmud which are still regarded as authoritative throughout the world.

From the day 1 understood the words of the Talmud, my heart has pushed me toward those lenient to forgiviness

From responses for France scholar and Luther'  pr.11  Dues Caritas est

Bernard de Clairvaux (1090-1153)  A Cistercian/Trappist Abbot. He did not believe in killing people if they didn't change religions.  Ended the crusades.

The son of a knight of the Duke of Burgundy. He enters Citeaux with 30 of his relatives and friends whom he had converted to his ideal. Less than four years later, in 1115, he is charged with founding the Clairvaux Abbey. Very quickly, Bernard is consulted as much by popes and emperors as by the most humble. At his death, Bernard leaves more then 350 abbots of the new Cictercian family. The relationship of the Abbot of Clairvaux with the Jewish people goes much farther then simple tolerance and simple protection:

Hurting the Jews is like "hurting the apple of Jesus eye" , because they are his flesh and blood.   (From the messages of Bernard de Clairvaux)

Salah ad-Din (1137-1193Great warrior for the Islam

Son of a Kurdish officer. This great warrior, who is also an exceptional political figure, is on e of the noblest personalities in the history of Islam: while dedicating himself entirely to setting the Muslim world on the right path, time and again he gives proof of his generosity and his tolerance: after his victory at Tiberias, he treats the Christian prisoners with honor and kindness.

With him generosity was put into the grave

(Imad ad-Din 1125-1204, biographer of Salah ad-Din)

 

This seems like a good place to summarize:

 

Christianity

New Testament says Jesus was crucified at Jerusalem

The Book of Acts describes Jerusalem is the starting point of the Christian mission

Luke 24:47 Repentance and forgiveness of sins is to be proclaimed in His name to all nations, beginning from Jerusalem.

Judaism

Jerusalem is the heart of the Jewish people, both spiritually and geographically.

As Jews take out the Torah in synagogue, the recite From Zion shall go forth the law and Word of God from Jerusalem

2 Chronicles 6:6 I have chosen Jerusalem in order that my name may be there, and I have chosen David to be over my people Israel.

Islam

Jerusalem  is the 3rd holy place, after Mecca, the birthplace of the prophet Mohammed, and Medina, the city to which he migrated.

The Koran says the prophet Mohammed journeyed to the farthest mosque where he prayed with Abraham, Moses, and Jesus. He also traveled to heaven to visit God. The Temple Mount (Haram Al Sharif or Noble Sanctuary) is the site of those miracles.

Mohammed was lifted into heaven at The Dome of the Rock. 

The Koran 17:1    Glory be to him who carried his servant by night from the sacred temple of Mecca to the temple of Jerusalem that is more remote, whose precinct we have blessed, that we might show him of our tokens.

About Jesus in Islam:

In Islam, Jesus is considered to be a Messenger of God and the Messiah who was sent to guide the Children of Israel with a new scripture.

The belief in Jesus (and all other messengers of God) is required in Islam, and a requirement of being a Muslim.

The Qur'an mentions Jesus twenty-five times, more often, by name, than Muhammad.
It states that Jesus was born to Mary as the result of virginal conception, a miraculous event which occurred by the decree of God (Allah).

To aid in his ministry to the Jewish people, Jesus was given the ability to perform miracles (such as healing the blind, bringing dead people back to life, etc.), all by the permission of God rather than of his own power.

According to the popular opinion and Muslim traditions, Jesus was not crucified but instead, he was raised up by God unto the heavens. This "raising" is understood to mean through bodily ascension.

Muslims believe that Jesus will return to earth near the day of judgment to restore justice and to defeat Masih ad-Dajjal ("the false messiah", also known as the Antichrist).

Like all prophets in Islam, Jesus is considered to have been a Muslim (i.e., one who submits to the will of God),

Islam rejects the Christian view that Jesus was God incarnate or the son of God, that he was ever crucified or resurrected, or that he ever atoned for the sins of mankind.

The Qur'an says that Jesus himself never claimed any of these things, and it furthermore indicates that Jesus will deny having ever claimed divinity at the Last Judgment, and God will vindicate him.
The Qur'an emphasizes that Jesus was a mortal human being who, like all other prophets, had been divinely chosen to spread God's message.

Islamic texts forbid the association of partners with God, emphasizing a strict notion of monotheism (tawhīd).

Abraham is the Father of All Three Faiths.  See National Geographic cover.

Around 2000 BC Ishmael is born to Abraham and Hagar (maidservant of Sarah).

Ishmael is was an ancestor of Mohammed, the founder of Islam. 

Mohammed ascended to heaven here in Jerusalem at The Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount.

Isaac is born to Abraham and Sarah.  

Abraham came to the Dome of the Rock/Temple Mount to sacrifice his son Isaac. 

Isaac fathered Jacob, who slept in this place.

Jacob's 12 sons become the ancestors of 12 tribes of Israel. 

So you see, the trouble in Middle East is family feud between cousins!?!?

 

Faiths collide in Jerusalem --- From 1948 to 1967 Jerusalem was divided into Israel and Jordan.  Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem (including the Old City) from Jordan in the 6-Day War of 1967. Israel has vowed to keep Jerusalem united as its eternal capital. In the Old City now, Arabs, Jews and Christian mingle as they have for centuries in sometimes uneasy ethnic entanglement.

 

While were at this monument for all religions, Daniel had us read in the bible. Jen read at first, then I read Luke 24:13-29:

On the Road to Emmaus

Now that same day tow of them were going to a village called Emmaus, about seven miles from Jerusalem.

They were talking with each other about everything that had happened.

As they talked and discussed these things with each other, Jesus himself came up and walked along with them but they were kept from recognizing him.

He asked them "What are you discussing together as you walk along?"  They stood still, their faces downcast.

One of them, named Cleopas, asked him, "Are you only a visitor to Jerusalem and do not know the things that have happened there in these days?"

"What things?" he asked.

"About Jesus of Nazareth" they replied. "He was a prophet, powerful in word and deed before God and all the people.

The chief priests and our rulers handed him over to be sentenced to death, and they crucified him;

And what is more, it is the third day since all this took place.

In addition, some of our women amazed us.

They went to the tomb early this morning but didn't find his body. they cam and told us that they had seen a vision of angels, who said he was alive.

Then some of our companions when tot he tomb and found it just as the women had said, but him they did not see.

He said to them "How foolish you are, and how slow to believe all that the prophets have spoken!

Did not the Messiah have to suffer these things and then enter his glory?"

An beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.

As they approached the village to which they were going, Jesus continued on as if he were going further.

But they urged him strongly "Stay with us, for it is nearly evening; the day is almost over."

Se he went in to stay with them. 

 

On the hilltop was Neve Shalom "Village oasis of peace".

        It is joint Jewish-Arab community founded on a hilltop south of Latrun.

Named by a Dominican priest. From Isaiah verse: "Neveshalom" means "oasis of peace."

It was founded in 1969.   58 families live there.  Jewish and Arabs live in peace!!! Imagine that.

The way to Emmaus - main road to Jerusalem from Jaffa.

 

We walked over to Latrun, MONASTERY OF THE TRAPPIST MONKS.

Located on a strategic hilltop in the Ayalon Valley in Israel overlooking the road to Jerusalem.

It is 25 kilometers west of Jerusalem

In the Hebrew Bible, the Ayalon Valley was the site of a battle in which the Israelites, led by Joshua, defeated the Amorites (Joshua 10:1-11).  Centuries of Jewish rule ensued.

The Monastery - established 1890 by French, German and Flemish monks of the Trappists Abbey in France.

The monks established a vineyard and today they still produce wines sold in the Abbey shop and elsewhere.

Trappists, is a Roman Catholic religious order of contemplative monks who follow the Rule of St. Benedict. 

There are nearly 170 Trappist monasteries in the world, homes to approximately 2,100 Trappist monks and 1,800 Trappist nuns.

The International Center for the Study of Bird Migration (ICSBM) is also located at Latrun, adjacent to the Israeli Armored Corps Memorial and Museum, Yad La-Shiryon.

Trappists stayed here through all the wars.

They make and sell olive oil and wine.

Their Rule of Life is prayer and study and work. 

They don't talk.  What is so important to say?      joke: 7 years old finally says "Dad, pass the salt".

Before 1967 this monastery was in Jordan.

It is very plain - all cement color.  The monks wear long white robes.  We were lucky to be able to observe part of the service.  It was very quiet, subdued. The head priest sang and the congregation chanted back.

Dave with a monk escorting us out:

 

12:10 and we are back on the road on the road after the monastery.

Driving out of the monastery, we passed a carob tree with an entire herd of goats, and the herder using it for shade.  The JNF (Jewish National Fund) has planted 200 million trees!!!

 

Israel is building 10-mile long tunnel for a train

We are on 38 south toward Bet Shemesh "House of the Sun"

We are passing Zor'A kibbutz up on the hill.

There is an Ace Hardware and an Office Depot store! I have also seem Pizza Hut, McDonalds.

We are driving in hills now.  This is where the story of David and Goliath took place -  where he picked up his stone.  I read 1 Samuel 17 to the bus

Passage 1 Samuel 17:
Now the Philistines gathered their forces for was and assembled at  Sokoh in Judah.  They pitched camp at Ephes Dammim, between Sokoh and Azekah.  And Saul and the men of Israel were gathered together, and pitched by the valley of Elah, and set the battle in array against the Philistines. And the Philistines stood on a mountain on the one side, and Israel stood on a mountain on the other side: and there was a valley between them.

And there went out a champion out of the camp of the Philistines, named Goliath, of Gath, whose height was six cubits and a span. And he had an helmet of brass upon his head, and he was armed with a coat of mail; and the weight of the coat was five thousand shekels of brass. And he had greaves of brass upon his legs, and a target of brass between his shoulders. And the staff of his spear was like a weaver's beam; and his spear's head weighed six hundred shekels of iron: and one bearing a shield went before him.

And he stood and cried unto the armies of Israel, and said unto them, Why are ye come out to set your battle in array? am not I a Philistine, and ye servants to Saul? choose you a man for you, and let him come down to me. If he be able to fight with me, and to kill me, then will we be your servants: but if I prevail against him, and kill him, then shall ye be our servants, and serve us. And the Philistine said, I defy the armies of Israel this day; give me a man, that we may fight together. When Saul and all Israel heard those words of the Philistine, they were dismayed, and greatly afraid.

Now David was the son of that Ephrathite of Bethlehemjudah, whose name was Jesse; and he had eight sons: and the man went among men for an old man in the days of Saul. And the three eldest sons of Jesse went and followed Saul to the battle: and the names of his three sons that went to the battle were Eliab the firstborn, and next unto him Abinadab, and the third Shammah. And David was the youngest: and the three eldest followed Saul. But David went and returned from Saul to feed his father's sheep at Bethlehem.


And the Philistine drew near morning and evening, and presented himself forty days.

And Jesse said unto David his son, Take now for thy brethren an ephah of this parched corn, and these ten loaves, and run to the camp of thy brethren; And carry these ten cheeses unto the captain of their thousand, and look how thy brethren fare, and take their pledge. Now Saul, and they, and all the men of Israel, were in the valley of Elah, fighting with the Philistines.

And David rose up early in the morning, and left the sheep with a keeper, and took, and went, as Jesse had commanded him; and he came to the trench, as the host was going forth to the fight, and shouted for the battle. For Israel and the Philistines had put the battle in array, army against army. And David left his carriage in the hand of the keeper of the carriage, and ran into the army, and came and saluted his brethren.

And as he talked with them, behold, there came up the champion, the Philistine of Gath, Goliath by name, out of the armies of the Philistines, and spake according to the same words: and David heard them. And all the men of Israel, when they saw the man, fled from him, and were sore afraid.

And the men of Israel said, Have ye seen this man that is come up? surely to defy Israel is he come up: and it shall be, that the man who killeth him, the king will enrich him with great riches, and will give him his daughter, and make his father's house free in Israel.

And David spake to the men that stood by him, saying, What shall be done to the man that killeth this Philistine, and taketh away the reproach from Israel? for who is this uncircumcised Philistine, that he should defy the armies of the living God?

And the people answered him after this manner, saying, So shall it be done to the man that killeth him.

And Eliab his eldest brother heard when he spake unto the men; and Eliab's anger was kindled against David, and he said, Why camest thou down hither? and with whom hast thou left those few sheep in the wilderness? I know thy pride, and the naughtiness of thine heart; for thou art come down that thou mightest see the battle.

And David said, What have I now done? Is there not a cause? And he turned from him toward another, and spake after the same manner: and the people answered him again after the former manner. And when the words were heard which David spake, they rehearsed them before Saul: and he sent for him.
And David said to Saul, Let no man's heart fail because of him; thy servant will go and fight with this Philistine.
And Saul said to David, Thou art not able to go against this Philistine to fight with him: for thou art but a youth, and he a man of war from his youth.

And David said unto Saul, Thy servant kept his father's sheep, and there came a lion, and a bear, and took a lamb out of the flock: And I went out after him, and smote him, and delivered it out of his mouth: and when he arose against me, I caught him by his beard, and smote him, and slew him. Thy servant slew both the lion and the bear: and this uncircumcised Philistine shall be as one of them, seeing he hath defied the armies of the living God. David said moreover, The LORD that delivered me out of the paw of the lion, and out of the paw of the bear, he will deliver me out of the hand of this Philistine. And Saul said unto David,
"Go, and the LORD be with thee"

And Saul armed David with his armour, and he put an helmet of brass upon his head; also he armed him with a coat of mail. And David girded his sword upon his armour, and he assayed to go; for he had not proved it. And David said unto Saul, "I cannot go with these; for I have not proved them." And David put them off him. And he took his staff in his hand, and chose him five smooth stones out of the brook, and put them in a shepherd's bag which he had, even in a scrip; and his sling was in his hand: and he drew near to the Philistine.

And the Philistine came on and drew near unto David; and the man that bare the shield went before him. And when the Philistine looked about, and saw David, he disdained him: for he was but a youth, and ruddy, and of a fair countenance. And the Philistine said unto David, Am I a dog, that thou comest to me with staves? And the Philistine cursed David by his gods. And the Philistine said to David, Come to me, and I will give thy flesh unto the fowls of the air, and to the beasts of the field.

Then said David to the Philistine, Thou comest to me with a sword, and with a spear, and with a shield: but I come to thee in the name of the LORD of hosts, the God of the armies of Israel, whom thou hast defied. This day will the LORD deliver thee into mine hand; and I will smite thee, and take thine head from thee; and I will give the carcases of the host of the Philistines this day unto the fowls of the air, and to the wild beasts of the earth; that all the earth may know that there is a God in Israel. And all this assembly shall know that the LORD saveth not with sword and spear: for the battle is the LORD's, and he will give you into our hands.

And it came to pass, when the Philistine arose, and came, and drew nigh to meet David, that David hastened, and ran toward the army to meet the Philistine. And David put his hand in his bag, and took thence a stone, and slang it, and smote the Philistine in his forehead, that the stone sunk into his forehead; and he fell upon his face to the earth.

So David prevailed over the Philistine with a sling and with a stone, and smote the Philistine, and slew him; but there was no sword in the hand of David.


Therefore David ran, and stood upon the Philistine, and took his sword, and drew it out of the sheath thereof, and slew him, and cut off his head therewith. And when the Philistines saw their champion was dead, they fled. And the men of Israel and of Judah arose, and shouted, and pursued the Philistines, until thou come to the valley, and to the gates of Ekron. And the wounded of the Philistines fell down by the way to Shaaraim, even unto Gath, and unto Ekron. And the children of Israel returned from chasing after the Philistines, and they spoiled their tents.

And David took the head of the Philistine, and brought it to Jerusalem; but he put his armour in his tent.

And when Saul saw David go forth against the Philistine, he said unto Abner, the captain of the host, Abner, whose son is this youth? And Abner said, As thy soul liveth, O king, I cannot tell.

And the king said, Enquire thou whose son this man is.

And as David returned from the slaughter of the Philistine, Abner took him, and brought him before Saul with the head of the Philistine in his hand.

And Saul said to him, Whose son art thou, thou young man? And David answered, I am the son of your servant Jesse the Bethlehemite.


12:45 now on 375 east. It's nice to be in this front seat so I can see the road. It is very twisty with turns and elevation.

1 pm we had a "Barrier stop for inspection".  We are in the West bank.

Wow. I can really tell the difference between Arab and Jewish settlements.  The Jewish settlements look so nicely planned.  The Palestine areas have unfinished buildings, barren land (no trees), and of course minarets. The black water tanks are only on top of Arab houses.   There are no trees here.

 

We went through a tunnel bypass of Bethlehem.  There are high fences all along the highway to stop stones.

Highway 60 and we arrive in Jerusalem.  We will have lunch on the  Rachael Plateau.

I took a picture and made a note:  on the left side is Hebrew University, then the German ascension, which is now a hospital. The Church of the ascension steeple then on the right Mt. Olives.

Gasoline is about $8 a gallon. It is 7.50 shekels per liter for gas.

Getting out of Tel Aviv we had a bit of traffic.  I think we spent a longer time in Jaffa to avoid the commuter traffic. Their Sunday is like our Monday.  So we got to the hotel around 3. I'm in room 1115, right next to Dave and Pat. On the side of our doorway of our rooms here in the hotel we have a Mesusa ( I know I didn't spell that correctly).  Inside is a rolled up copy of a printout of Deuteronomy 6:4 which verse encapsulates the monotheistic essence of Judaism:

     "Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one,"

 

Jerusalem hotel Sept 18 ,  Sept 21, 2011

Leonardo Plaza Jerusalem  47 King George Street Jerusalem  91076  Israel
Tel (009) 722-6298 666 Fax (009)722 6231 667 ,Tel: 972-2-6298666,
1-866-599-6674

http://www.leonardo-hotels.com/israel-hotels/jerusalem-hotels/plaza-hotel-jerusalem

Situated in Jerusalem, this hotel is close to Ben Yehuda Street, Temple Mount, and Dome of the Rock. Area attractions also include Knesset and Church of the Holy Sepulchre. Temple Mount nearby

  

The Israel Museum closes at 5 pm. Daniel said we would not have time to see it on Monday or Tuesday. I wonder when a regular tour goes to see the Israel Museum when they buy the optional excursion.  Before I left on this trip, I was warned that the optional trips might not be available . OK so they aren't .  Daniel wanted to get back to Tel Aviv to his family.  So he left our small little tour on our own for the night. Which is really OK with me.

He told us that dinner 6:30-9 on Elevator Level "R".  

I settled into my room then I went for a walk around the park behind our hotel.  This was in the Ha-atsmart garden.  I walked all the way around.  I did not look for the pedestrian malls in the street behind the park. Maybe tomorrow I will venture out for dinner.  Right. I don't have to if I don't want to. I wish Judy could have come. but I really I love love having the room to myself though.

On my way back to the hotel, I saw 3 girls smoking a hookah pipe. I looked back at them and they were posing for pictures of each other and kissing! They are very liberal here.

Then I saw Jen playing soccer with 2 girls from Ohio and 2 local guys.  She had found the gym in the hotel and now she was getting more exercise on the lawn.  I was hungry. It was 6:55 pm and the dinner buffet opened at 7 so Jen and I walked back to the hotel.  Jen was wearing her gym clothes ,  too short, black stretch pants, and a small sleeveless t-shirt that shows her midriff.

Her attire didn't seem appropriate for dining, so I tactfully asked her if she wanted me to wait while she changed clothes for dinner.  That was not going to happen.  Jen was not going to change clothes.  She planned to eat dinner in her gym clothes.  OK.  Like I said, I was hungry. So we walked into the dining room.

We were standing right in the middle of the buffet, holding our plates full of food and she put her arm around me.  I couldn't go anywhere. She wanted to pray for our food ?!? All I wanted was to get to the table and sit down so we weren't on display to the entire dining room.  Why did we have to pray standing up holding our food, instead of sitting down at the table (like Jesus did).  Anyway

The food was fabulous.  Every kind of meat and vegetable and salad.  We sat at a table with Debbie and Sherrie. Then Dave and Pat arrived. I think we were there until after 8. Doug and Beverly finally arrived (after an extended nap.)

Jen spent a long time looking through a black book with writing on every page.  It had phone numbers and information. She was trying to make a phone call. She asked for help reading the phone number.  Debbie loaned her glasses so she could read the book.  I don't think she completed the call.  Anyway, it looks like we have a very nice great group of people. We can probably all have our own row in the bus. It was very comfortable. 

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DAY 4 Monday September 19  Jerusalem.  Garden Tomb, Excursion to Ein Karem and to Bethlehem

Itinerary This morning, drive to Ein Karem and visit the CHURCH OF ST. JOHN THE BAPTIST and the CHURCH OF VISITATION, said to be built over the home of John the Baptist's parents.

Enjoy a beautiful view of the valley and the surrounding wooded hills.

Continue to Bethlehem and see Shepherd's Field, where the angels announced the birth of Jesus.

Next, visit the CHURCH OF THE NATIVITY, which stands on the site where Jesus was born.

On the way back to Jerusalem, visit the GARDEN TOMB, where you will enjoy the scenery of the beautiful holy garden.

Tonight, perhaps an optional Israeli folklore show with dinner?

Optional Excursion in Jerusalem ,  night show and Oriental dinner ,  Join an unforgettable night out and discover the story of Jerusalem through a spectacular night show held in the Tower of David. Value USD $75 per person

Optional Excursion in Jerusalem ,  Synagogue and Israel Museum ,  Visit the SYNAGOGUE of Hadassah Hospital with its famous Chagall windows representing the 12 sons of the Patriarch Jacof, who formed the Twelve Tribes of Israel. Continue to the ISREAL (sic) MUSEUM with the Shrine of the Book and the Dead Sea Scrolls, the oldest Bible in the world, and the model of Jerusalem in the Second Temple period. A visit to the Holocaust Memorial at Yad Vashem is also included.  Value USD $75 per person

Breakfast included today.

 

Wake up 7 (we set our own time)

Depart at 8:30.  Yeah, right.  That is not going to happen.  Jen is late again today.  Looks like this is going to be pattern. 

Last night Dave and Pat walked around in Old Jerusalem.  Dave has been here before. They saw Israeli troops on tours. Daniel explained that they are required to learn about their ancestry. Israeli army on tours is called "Sunday culture".

Jen is finally here. We can leave. Our first stop is the Garden Tomb. Then we are going to Ein Karem and Visitation Church, then Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus

From 1948 to 1967 Jerusalem was divided into Israel and Jordan right here where we were driving on the street!  Israel captured Arab East Jerusalem (including the Old City) from Jordan in the 6-Day War of 1967. Israel has vowed to keep Jerusalem united as its eternal capital. In the Old City now, Arabs, Jews and Christian mingle as they have for centuries in sometimes uneasy ethnic entanglement.

 

 

Today and tomorrow we are going to trace the path of Jesus's Last Days.  This was Jesus' Final Week in Jerusalem

Sunday: The entry into Jerusalem, seated on a donkey (Mark 11)

Monday: Jesus cleanses the temple of the money-changers (Mark 11)

Tuesday: Jesus teaches in the temple (John 12). Judas agrees with the high priests to betray Jesus

Wednesday: Quiet day in Bethany

Thursday: The Last Supper with 12 apostles in the Upper Room. Then Jesus take them to Gethsemane, across the Kidron valley to pray. He is arrested. (Matthew 26)

Friday: Jesus is tried before high priest (Matthew 26) and is taken to the Sanhedrin (the court of the Jews). Then he is taken to Pontius Pilate (Luke 23), who sends him to Herod. Finally after Jesus is sentence to death, he is taken to Golgotha and crucified (Mark 15) His body take down from the cross and buried in the tomb (Luke 23)

Sunday:  Disciples see the risen Christ in Jerusalem (Luke 24).

 

 

Garden Tomb

We arrive around 9 am at the Garden hillside and tomb.  There was a sign posted of John 19:16-18

Then delivered he him therefore unto them to be crucified. And they took Jesus, and led him away.
And he bearing his cross went forth into a place called the place of a skull, which is called in the Hebrew Golgotha:
Where they crucified him, and two other with him, on either side one, and Jesus in the midst.

The picture to the right is Grampa's in 1960.

 

 

We had a great guide who was very skilled at telling the story so it did not offend any person of any religion.  He took a long time to explain that  "Some things we know for certain"...

This was outside the city wall and on a main Roman road and next to a garden where Josephs tomb is located.

These gardens were a vineyards before the garden was here.  The wine press dates 2000 years old.  

There is an ancient water system. It was discovered 120 years ago and it is 2000 years old.  It is now the 3rd largest source of water in Jerusalem. They have built a square enclosure around it.

This land is owned by the Garden Tomb Association. It is an English charity. It was bought in 1894. The man who bought it purchased it because of the tomb carved into the rock face, but then they found water and became valuable land.

This rock face was here 2000 years ago. The North end of Mt. Moriah was a rock quarry.  This is known as "scull hill" because of the rock formation (as seen in 1960 and 1971 pictures below).

This is why this place is one of the two primary locations identified as the site where Jesus Christ was buried.  The other site is in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher.  Both identify Golgotha. "Golgotha" in Hebrew (or Aramaic) means the "place of the Skull" and was translated into Latin as "Calvary".  

This scull is in the side of mountain. The other scull in the Church is Adam's (of "Adam&Eve") which is buried against the Rock of Golgotha. You can se it in the Chapel of Adam.  Calvary in the church is right above Adam's Chapel in the church.

I don't know which site is historically correct, and I don't really care. I do believe in the historical facts in the Bible.  Although we can't be sure of the exact place where Jesus was buried, I am sure that somewhere in Jerusalem there is an empty tomb where He was placed, and from which He rose on the third day.

John 19:17-21:

And carrying his own cross, he went out to the place of the Skull (which in Aramaic is called Golgotha). 

Here they crucified him, and with him two others - one on each side and Jesus in the middle. 

 

What was discovered here was a "Jewish rolling stone tomb". The guide says "We can't say that we know for certain that this is the real tomb". He says "it might be". 

He said that the tomb at one time might have been used as a sanctuary by a Byzantine chapel. The ground right here in front of the tomb might have been the floor the of the chapel.

Our guide was standing in the channel of the rolling stone when he told us that the stone that covered the tomb entrance weighed 1.5 tons.   There is no rolling stone here. 

He said that people that return to this place swear that the rolling stone was here before.  He was very excited to see  Grampa's photos (see below) that proves that there was no rolling stone in 1960.  I left the old photos with him so he could show people that the stone was not there in 50 years ago. 

So if you can't make the trip to Israel, you HAVE TO GO TO The Holy Land Experience in Orlando, Florida.  This is my picture of the Garden Tomb in Florida.  It is very similar...

"When you get to the tomb. it will be empty."    This is what you see when you walk inside the tomb in Jerusalem.  there is a gate to the right. In the gated area, there are places to put bodies on the left and right side.

 

After the tour, we had lots of time to walk around.  I was taking lots of pictures (which I lost).  Daniel was very nice not hurry us so we could spend more time at the garden.

I was ready to leave, but I looked up to a seating area and I noticed some of our group up there.  Dave was doing communion. That was very special. Thanks Dave!

10 am and we are leaving The Garden Tomb.

 Daniel is very happy to see that there is finally a working tram in Jerusalem!  But it took so long to construct people are riding it for free right now. To appease the people for the construction. 

We are now on our way to Ein Karem. He said that maybe only have time see the visitation church because others only where john Baptist closes at noon.

On the road to Ein Karem, there was a place where we could see across the valley where there was a museum.  Part of the museum was a train car that the Nazi's used to transport Jews to the concentration camps. We also saw Hadassa Hospital - the biggest in Israel.

10:30 we arrived Ein Karem

According to Christian tradition, John the Baptist was born in Ein Kerem.

Ein Karn means "spring of the vineyard".  The crusades were here.  Before 1948 this was an Arab village.

We walked up the road to  "Marys Spring". It is in the middle of map in this picture.   There is a Mosque is built on top of the spring.

 

We walked up a steep grade (number "5" on the map above). There are steps to walk up, but there is also smooth tracks so a car can drive up.  It was an absolutely perfect temperature - 80 degrees with a breeze.

We walked through the Hadassah gate to the Basilica and Crypt of the Visitation.  You see this statue of Elizabeth and Mary. Elizabeth's belly has a bulge to imply she is with child. It was here that Mary, who is pregnant, met her cousin Elizabeth, who is also pregnant (with John the Baptist). When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, Elizabeth's infant leaped into womb.  According to  Luke 1:39-56:

And Mary arose in these days and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Judah; and entered into the house of Zacharias and saluted Elisabeth. And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit; and she lifted up her voice with a loud cry, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come unto me? For behold, when the voice of thy salutation came into mine ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. And blessed is she that believed; for there shall be a fulfillment of the things which have been spoken to her from the Lord.

And Mary said,

My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Savior.
For he hath looked upon the low estate of his handmaid: For behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For he that is mighty hath done to me great things; And holy is his name.
And his mercy is unto generations and generations On them that fear him.
He hath showed strength with his arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their heart.
He hath put down princes from their thrones, And hath exalted them of low degree.
The hungry he hath filled with good things; And the rich he hath sent empty away.
He hath given help to Israel his servant, That he might remember mercy
(As he spake unto our fathers) Toward Abraham and his seed for ever.
And Mary abode with her about three months, and returned unto her house.

 

The Visitation church has been in the hands of the Franciscans since 1674. In 1941 they excavated the area and found several rock-cut chambers and graves, as well as wine presses with mosaic floors and small chapels with mosaic tiling.  

The upper part of the church (in this photo) was built in mid 50's.

 

This is the inside wall of the church that you see when you enter (this is a postcard). Center pix Cana Minale.   Water to wine.

The altar is Franciscan priest offering the church to Mary.   Painting by Balutzi - an Italian artist. 

 

Notice the beautiful mosaic floor.

 

Then we walked to the Church of St. John the Baptist.   St. John's church is built in Spanish style.  A Catholic church built in the second half of the 19th century on the remnants of earlier Byzantine and Crusader churches.   

You go through these doors in the photo above and enter a foyer in the photo below.  You can look down to the remains of an ancient mosaic floor.

Inside St. John church. The altar:

To the left of the altar is a cave where, according to Christian tradition, John the Baptist was born. Here:

Inscription says  Benedectus Dominus | Deus Israel, QuiaVisitavit, et Fecit

There is a painting labeled "Saint John the Precursor  in the Byzantine iconography." and a mosaic with inscription in the first chapel. "Hail, O martyrs of God."

The English sign on beautiful mosaics said this:

Blessed by the Lord, the God of Israel!

He has visited his people and redeemed them.

He has raised up for us a mighty saviour in the house of David his servant, as he promised by the lips of holy men, those who were his prophets from of old.

A saviour who would free us from our foes, from the hands of all who hate us.

So his love for our fathers is fulfilled and his hold covenant remembered.

He swore to Abraham our father to grant us, that free from fear, and saved from the hands of our foes, we might serve him in holiness and justice all the days of our life in his presence.

As for you, little child, you shall be called a prophet of God, the Most High.

You shall go ahead of the Lord to prepare his ways before him, to make known to his people their salvation through forgiveness of all their sins, the loving kindness of the heart of our God who visits us like the dawn from on high.

He will give light to those in darkness, those who dwell in the shadow of death, and guide us into the way of peace.

Presented by the commissary of the Holy Land London 1989.

12 noon and we are leaving St. Johns.

Now that is something that I do not want to remember. We are driving up a narrow steep winding road.  Jen is struggling and she  cannot get her seat belt fastened. There is a law that requires her to wear her seat belt. The driver does not want to be fined so he is driving with one hand, taking his eyes off the road and trying to fasten her seat belt with his other hand.  The belt will not reach. She has to adjust the lower part so there is enough to pull into the fastener.  He realized that it is dangerous to help her on this road.  She finally adjusts the length of the bottom part of the belt, he tries it again and pulls the belt very tight across her lap and forces it into the fastener.  Now he can drive safely.

Interesting information from Daniel:

Drinking age in Israel is 18 years old.  You can get your driver's license at 17 years old.

It is illegal to buy alcohol at night - only buy it from 6 am to midnight.

The cost of an apartment in Tel Aviv in a small, bad area is about 600,000 shekels or $180,000. To rent one room in an OK area is 3000 shekels or $800 a month.

There has been a lot of privatization by Netanyahu government.

There are tents in the park. Daniel told me that on July 15, one 25-year old girl put  up a tent on the main Tel Aviv street to protest the unbalanced distribution of power and money in the govt.  She became the leader of the demonstration movement. 

Up to half million people participated in non-violent demonstrations. They have scheduled debates and interviews etc. And they have been successful and very effective. They got grocery stores to lower their prices!   This week the government is forcing the removal of the last tents.

We are driving to a diamond factory where we will have lunch.  It sure seems like a long way to drive to have lunch.  I'm hungry.

I took a photo of the new American consulate  (not the Embassy) building right next to the diamond factory.

We got a nice (by that I mean very short) tour then dumped into the store. I bought a post card.

My name is "Shushanna" in Hebrew. It means "rose".  "Isah" is "Jesus" in Arabic. Not sure I spelled that correctly.

Oops. We left the diamond factory without Sherrie!   We had to back up the bus to turn around and get her. 

I paid 60 shekels for the lunch buffet. With a bottle of tea. Or it was 12 USD so the tea was $5. USD!

Now we are going to Bethlehem.

  

Bethlehem  - the City of David, birthplace of Jesus.

Bethlehem is a Palestinian territory in the West Bank.  There is a big tall cement wall build in 2004 around Bethlehem.  But INSIDE the city there is another wall to enclose the tomb of Rachael - the place where the "Abrahamic matriarch" Rachel died and was buried.  Genesis 48:7

Now as for me, when I came from Paddan, Rachel died, to my sorrow, in the land of Canaan on the journey, when there was still some distance to go to Ephrath; and I buried her there on the way to Ephrath (that is, Bethlehem).

The United Nations planned that the tomb site should lie within an international zone, however, following the 1948 Arab - Israeli War, the tomb was incorporated into the West Bank which was subsequently annexed by Jordan. Israelis were unable to visit the tomb for 19 years until Israel captured it during the 1967 Six Day War.  In 1996 Israel enclosed the tomb with a fortified installation.  Despite protests from the Arabs, In 2005, Israel enclosed the complex within the Israeli side of the West Bank barrier, effectively annexing it to Jerusalem and barring access to Palestinian Authority residents.

 

To get into Bethlehem, we passed through lots of tall wire fences.

We had to show our passport

The "border crossing" building was huge.  It handles about 3000 workers a day. They are Arabs that live in Bethlehem, but they have work permits to go to Jerusalem to work.  Every day except Saturday.   Israel needs construction workers to they are allowed to enter Israel, but absolutely no Israeli Jews are allowed here in Bethlehem.   It is not possible for Daniel or Isaac (our guide and driver) to go to Bethlehem. They could travel there up to the year 2000.

This the wall inside Bethlehem:

Our new city tour guide "Esah" greeted us on the Palestinian side of the wall.  We got into 2 cars and rode to the center of the city.  We parked a lot closer than the bus parking lot.  Sherrie and Debbie were thankful for that.  I'm glad I was in Esah's car.  He was very

.

About Bethlehem

"Bet" means the "house" and "Lehem" means "of bread".

City of Bethlehem population is 5,000.  Arabs Palestinians, Christians and Catholics live here.  It is 27% Christian.  30 years ago it was 80% Christian.   In the whole region of Israel, including the West Bank and Jordan is only 1.2 % Christian.

 

Esah, our guide is originally Greek orthodox.

If Palestine becomes a state, they will have the Palestinian pound for currency.

We walked about one block to Manger Square where we saw the Church of the Nativity.

We entered through the main "door". It is a small opening and you have to duck down. Were people shorter then? Or maybe it was a way to protect the church so you can only enter one person at a time. Or you have to bow to show reverence to the Lord. 

 

My grandfathers photo from 1960 is on the left. My grandmother is standing beside the short doorway. My photo from 2011 is very similar to the 1960 photo.  

On the right side is my friend, Bob Causey's photo when he visited in 1971. The sign in his photo says: 

Military Command  Judaea and Samaria     Ministry of Religious Affairs       Rules for Visitors

1. The place which you are visiting is holy.

2. Please conduct yourself with due respect for it.

3. Smoking is prohibited.

4. Cleanliness should be strictly kept.

5. Absolute silence is urged.

6. Modest dress demeanor is essential.

7. Easting and drinking within these precincts are absolutely forbidden.

8. No church property may be touched.

9. No head-dress may be worn within the precincts.

10. The bringing in of Animals is prohibited.

11. Arms may not be taken within the church.

12. Photographs may be taken but not of members of the clergy.

Visitors must adhere to any instructions given by responsible stall and guardian of the church. Offenders will be punished.

This is what you see when you enter:

 

We went directly to the right side to get into the long line.  Esah said it would about a 45-minute wait in line to see the manger.  He told us about the church, then he said we could walk around and get photos.

The  oldest continuously operating churches in the world.

The first church on this site was built in 327. That structure was burnt down in 529 and the current basilica was rebuilt in its present form in 565 .

The church was built over a grotto or cave called the Holy Crypt, where Jesus was born.

(Pregnant) Mary and Joseph came to Bethlehem for the census.  The Inn (as in the saying "no room at the inn") was really a natural cave where poor people stay. 

When the Persians invaded in 614, they did not destroy the structure because they saw the painting on the wall of the Three Magi wearing Persian clothing, and commanded that the building be spared.

Inside the church is in the shape of a cross. There are 44 columns. A holy man is painted on each column.

During the crusades, the church was catholic. Now, the left side (of the cross) is Armenian. The center and left is Greek Orthodox. The Manger is all Greek orthodox except for the area of the silver star. Also Catholics from St. Catherine's come to pray here every day on schedule. If they miss a day, they loose the privilege of using the church.  The Greeks come and do the incense.

It has been expanded over the years and now covers approximately 12,000 square meters.

While the group waited to hold our place in line, we could walk around to take photos.  I watched the end of the 2:30 service on the left Armenian side of the church.   They have long black robes.

They have cut away the floor to show a beautiful mosaic floor below.

When our group got past a door, they shut the door and no one else was allowed in line.  They do this so they can perform the Greek service.  So there were about 100 people packed together in the smallest space possible. It was an area to the right of the main altar in the church. It was not a line any more.  It was every person for themself to get down to the basement room.  People could buy candles and there were two big round bowls where you could mount your lighted candle.  It was already very very HOT in there, the candles made it even hotter.  

  

 

The steps are to the left side of the candles.  Here we are:

 

As I got near the steps that lead down to the doorway, people were really pushing and shoving to jockey for a good position to get down those steps. It was a very uncomfortable situation.  Someone pushed Debbie, and she fell on the second step.  The people shoved in closer around her and she couldn't get up.  After some struggles, someone finally helped her up.  All she could do was laugh to keep from having words with the very rude people around us. 

A priest scolded us for talking and laughing.  "This is a holy place.  No laughing is allowed!"

It sure didn't feel holy at that moment.  It was slow going, but I was finally near the doorway.  Isah was on the other side and he grabbed my arm to pull me past some other people.  They sure didn't like that. 

Once I was there, it was a very amazing feeling to be there.

When you enter the Grotto of the Nativity, on the left was the area where the 3 wise men stood and worshipped.


On the right side of the grotto is the manger.  This photo is how the birth of Jesus was displayed in the church in 1960 when my grandparents visited:


In 1971, when my friend visited, a 14-point Silver Star was added under the altar in the grotto where Jesus was born.   

This is my photo in 2011 of Doug kneeling at the star:  

    

 

You exit the grotto on the opposite side, on the Armenian side of the church.  We walked through this area and entered St. Catherine's Church (Catholic).  It looked newer.  White plaster with gold trim.

3:40 an we are exiting the churches.  That was an amazing tour.  This is the Jerusalem cross on top of the Church of the Nativity.



We walked back to the cars.  There are signs around the town:



The day we were there (in 2011), the United Nations Security Council was determining if they were going to allow a membership vote to recognize an official Palestinian state; Thus the "UN 194" sign.
It was a very exciting, encouraging time to be there. 

2012 update: The United Nations recognized an independent state of Palestine.   On 29 November 2012 the UN General Assembly passed resolution 67/19 upgrade Palestine from an "observer entity" to a "non-member observer state" within the United Nations system, and implicitly recognizing PLO's sovereignty. But the path to statehood remains long....




Then, of course we had an obligatory stop at a tourist shop. He took us to a shop to shop and get mint tea.

    The Holy Land CANAVATI Stores

Diamonds, Fine Jewelry, Gold & Silver & Handicrafts, Souvenirs

PO Box 54  Manger St. Bethlehem   or PO Box 19115 Jerusalem, Israel

Tel +972 2 274 3180   email: thl.canavatistores@gmail.com

http://www.yellowpages.com.ps/profile/NjE5Nw==/The-Holy-Land-Canavati-Stores.html

We saw a group of kids getting out of school. The girls uniform was a plaid jumper just below the knee. White shirt and sox, black shoes. 

We drove past the corner where Rachael's tomb is located.  There are police officers stationed there all the time.  They are always patrolling that corner because rocks are thrown over the wall from Israel into Bethlehem.

We drove past the Palestinian Heritage Cultural Center.  Their web site http://www.phc.ps/ has a gift shop with some beautiful things.

Got a pix of Palestine license plate: green with white letters. Israel license plates are yellow.

There a big "Goodbye from Bethlehem" sign.  It had a URL http://travelpalestine.wordpress.com/  to "The Official Blog for Tourism in Palestine".

My observation of Bethlehem is that it felt different than Israel. Going through the wall set the tone.  Isolation, cordoned off , segregation, oppressed, almost communist. Definitely different. More rubble. No (or rather less) flowers.   There are construction sites everywhere.

When we were walking up to the exit gate, there were a couple postcard selling boys following us.  We exited.  One boy had convince Jen to buy some postcards.  She was holding the postcards and exited and she had not paid the boy.  They boy, of course could not exit.  

There was some raised voices because the boy thought she was stealing the postcards. She did not have any money.  So Jen told the guide to give the boy some money. She didn't ask, she told him. That was awkward.

 

It is a custom on these tours for us to tip our guides by giving money to them. But not for Jen.  I'm not sure what transpired next.  I heard that Jen wrote a personal check to the guide for the cost of the postcards. Then I think Dave paid. She had told us that her account was over-drawn so he knew the check was no good.  Like I said, difficult situation. 

Daniel gave me a paper to get stamped by the Bethlehem guide.  I had to give it back to him when we got back to Israel.

We rode the bus back to the hotel. 

Pat and Dave were going to walk to the Jaffa Gate to see the Sound and Light laser Show (cost 55 shekels, 30 minutes). I passed on that opportunity and I agreed to meet Bev and Doug and Jen at 7 at the buffet for dinner.

We had about an hour to relax and refresh. Then I went downstairs at 7 and I waited at the entrance to the buffet dinner.  The cost was 145 shekels (about $50) for all that food on the big buffet.  I waited until 7:30 and nobody in our group showed up.  That's  ok. You have to be really flexible on these trips. And I kinda wanted to relax with smaller, less complicated meal.

I went upstairs to the restaurant and I ordered spaghetti and a glass of red wine for dinner.

That is different on this Globus tour. There is no wine provided with dinner (yet). I remember all that wine on the Globus tour through Italy with mom and dad, and on that Globus tour thru Iberia with Judy. I've been on so many trips when everyone would be at the bar before dinner. That trip to Africa was a lot of fun.  On the cruises the last 2 summers, we call it "Beta Delta Delta" for "before dinner drinks".  Things are little pricey here. It is not a cheap trip. And $8 dollar glasses of wine really add up.

It was nice to just sit quietly at dinner.  I didn't have the energy, or the desire to venture out.  Even the night before when I walked around the park - I was on my own and I realized that I was doing exactly what I promised I would not do. Venture out on my own. It's a judgment call.

I wrote "Seems like I need to write smaller. Going to run out of paper. I should be typing this." I always worry about running out of paper when writing my trip journals on the trip.  I always have an extra.

Wow, the spaghetti was really good!  Great tomato sauce and the wine hit the spot.  What a great vacation.

I was enjoying my meal and I noticed Bev and Doug talking to the maître' D.  I invited them to sit with me.  We had very nice conversion while they enjoyed their meal. 

The cost of my delicious meal was 36 + 6 VAT = 42 shekel ($11 USD)

I found out the next day that laser show was sold out so Pat&Dave did not get to see it...

 

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 DAY 5 Tuesday September 20 Jerusalem. Excursion to the Old City

Itinerary After a panoramic view from the MOUNT OF OLIVES over the old and modern parts of the city, start your guided walking tour.

Via the Chapel of Dominus Flevit, where Jesus wept over Jerusalem, arrive at the GARDEN OF GETHSEMANE.

Here, see the Rock of Agony, where Jesus prayed his last prayer before his arrest.  Nearby are the Cave of the Assumption of Mary and the Cave of Betrayal.

Follow the Stations of the Cross along the VIA DOLOROSA to Golgotha, and visit the CHURCH OF THE HOLY SEPULCHRE.

Erected over the site of the crucifixion, this church is shared by six Christian communities.

Walk past the Temple Mount, from where you can see the Dome of the Rock, a splendid mosque on the holy mount.

On to the WAILING WALL, the most holy shrine in the Jewish religion.

Then, stroll through the restored Jewish Quarter to MOUNT ZION and visit the UPPER ROOM, the TOMB OF KING DAVID, and the HOUSE OF CAIAPHAS, where Jesus was kept the night after he was arrested. Evening at leisure.

Breakfast included today.

 

We were supposed to depart at 8:30 but Jen was late again today.  Daniel called her and she was just "getting a shower".  We almost left her.  8:47 and she comes strolling out to the bus, gets in passenger seat and we are finally on our way.  She has her makeup and jewelry out and the driver is more concerned that she needs to put on her seat belt.  She said she would put on the seatbelt after she got her necklace put on.  He asked her if she was going to pay the 700 shekel fine if she was caught with no seatbelt.  She put the seatbelt on.

 

Our schedule today:

Mt Olive first. Walk down Palm Sunday road.

Gethsemane, Church of Agony

Then bus to Dung Gate, Western wall, walk the Via Dolorosa

Church Holy Sepulcher,

Falafel / Gyro lunch

exit Zion Gate, last supper, add David's citadel

I'll refer to many things on this map in today's journal.

A summary about this famous city:

About Jerusalem aka Yerusha  means "Abode of Peace";

It is 37 miles (60 km) east of Tel Aviv and the Mediterranean Sea.

On the opposite side of the city, about 22 miles away (35 km) is the Dead Sea, the lowest body of water on Earth.

It is the capital of Israel, though not internationally recognized as such.

If the area and population of East Jerusalem is included, it is Israel's largest city in both population and area, with a population of 763,800 residents over an area of 50 square miles.

In the time of Jesus, the populatino was 90,000. From North to South was 1 mile, from East to West it was 2/3 mile.

Jerusalem is a holy city to the three major religions: Judaism, Christianity and Islam.

As a result, and despite having an area of only .35 square miles, the Old City is home to sites of key religious importance, among them the Temple Mount, the Western Wall, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Dome of the Rock and al-Aqsa Mosque.

Jerusalem has been destroyed twice, besieged 23 times, attacked 52 times, and captured and recaptured 44 times.

The oldest part of the city was settled in the 4th millennium BCE, making Jerusalem one of the oldest cities in the world.

The old walled city has been traditionally divided into four quarters, although the names used today the Armenian, Christian, Jewish, and Muslim Quarters were introduced in the early 19th century.

Jerusalem's status is the core issue in the Israeli, Palestinian conflict.

During the 1948 Arab-Israeli War, West Jerusalem was captured by among the areas captured Israel, and East Jerusalem was captured by Jordan.  Then Israel captured East Jerusalem during the 1967 Six-Day War. The international community has rejects Israel's annexation of East Jerusalem as illegal and treats it as Palestinian territory held by Israel under military occupation.

208,000 Palestinians live in East Jerusalem, which is sought by the Palestinian Authority as a future capital of a future Palestinian state.

All branches of the Israeli government are located in Jerusalem, including the Knesset (Israel's parliament), the residences of the Prime Minister and President, and the Supreme Court. Jerusalem is home to the Hebrew University and to the Israel Museum with its Shrine of the Book.

A city called alimum (Foundation of Shalem) appears in ancient Egyptian records as the first reference to Jerusalem, in c. 2000 BCE.

We rode in the bus to highest point in Jerusalem where we started our walking tour.

We saw the new tram. Daniel was happy to see that the tram is finally running!   It has taken so long to build it.  To appease the people, the government made it free to ride for now.

 

We get out of the bus at the  "Church of the Ascension" aka "Chapel of Ascension" aka "Mosque of the Ascension". 

Erected 392 AD, this Chapel marks the site where Jesus ascended into heaven.

Around 630 Muslims arrived here.

The Chapel was acquired by Saladin in 1198 and remains an Islamic Waqf (a religious endowment ) used by Christians.

As a gesture of compromise and goodwill, Saladin built a second mosque next door to the Chapel for Muslim worship while Christians continued to visit the main Chapel.

 

Here is my photo of Mount Olives.   In the front of the old city wall, you can see the Eastern Gate (closed double gate).  It is "locked". To the left of gold dome is the Church of Sepulcher.  The left side of the photo is the "City of David" and Kidron Valley.  Behind that is Mount Zion.

 

Here is my Grandmother in 1960 and my brother and his wife in 2003:



Some comparison photos of Mount Zion and the Kidron Valley

 

 

 

 

 

 

After a long stop to take photos of Mt. Olive, we started walking down "Palm Sunday Walk".  The route Jesus took to enter the city.  It was a steep road!

The first stop was "Necropolis Ostuary".  The sign says:

NECROPOLE Des I - IV Siecles A.D. Avec Sepultures Judei - Chretiennes des I-II Seicles

The box is as long as the longest bone in the body.  It reminded me of the boxes they used in the cemetery in Havana, Cuba.  They put the body in a common grave, then after a year they moved the bones to these smaller boxes.

80,000 Jews are buried here. It is the biggest Jewish cemetery here.  This web site was listed on a sign www.kadisha.org.il. Very interesting information about the Jewish cemetery.

This is my photo from inside the church Dominus Flevit - Domius Flavel, The Lord's whip.   It is the only chapel that is not facing east.

 

We passed the door with this sign

The Russian Orthodox Convent of St. Mary Magdalene

Russian Ecclesiastical Mission - A Russian orthodox church outside of Russia.

At 10:50 we were leaving the Necropolis area. We walked down to Gethsemane.

The sign at the entrance of Gethsemane says

Custodia Terrae Sanctae

Ordo Fratrum Minorum - Franciscan Friars

GETHSEMANE  Garden of Olives

Jesus went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden, which he and his disciples entered. (Gospel of John 18:1)

"Gethsemane, a place where the Saviour prayed before the passion. It is at the foot of the Mount of Olives, and today the faithful eagerly go to pray there."  (Eusebius of Caesarea: end of 3rd Cent. A.D.)

Campus Florum (since 13th Cent. A.D.) - 'Flower Garden'

Old Olive Trees venerated by Pilgrims (first mentioned in the 16th Cent. A.D.)

Basilica of the Agony

Architect Antonio Barluzzi, 1924

Then Jesus withdrew from them about a stone's throw. knelt down. and prayed. 'Father if you are willing, remove this cup from me: yet. not my will but yours be done. (Gospel of Luke 22:41-42)

Archaeological Excavations: Father Gaudence Orfali, 1919

Ecclesia Elegans - 'Beautiful Church' (4th Cent. A.D.): wall foundations - capitals - mosaic floor.

Church of Saint Saviour (12th Cent. A.D.): wall foundation - opus sectile floor - altar.

These olive trees are considered to be from the time of Christ.  They are 2000 year old ?!?

 

The garden had a fence around it. We could not walk in the garden.  I walked around it and took this photo of the closed gate in the old wall: 

 

 

This is my grandfather's photo of the same gate in 1960:

 

The Church of Agony here in the garden is the "Church of 12 Nations" - there are 12 domes to represent the 12 nations that gave monetary contributions to build the current basilica. The deer on top are for Psalm 42:1-5

1 As the deer pants for streams of water, So my soul pants for You, O God.

2 My soul thirsts for God, for the living God; When can I go and meet with God?

3 My tears have been my food day and night, While people say to me all day long, Where is your God?

4 These things I remember and I pour out my soul:
how I used to go to the house of God under the protection of the Mighte One with shouts of joy and praise among the festive throng.

5 Why, my soul, are you downcast? Why so disturbed within me?
Put your hope in God, for I will yet praise him, my savior and my God.

 

 

This is the text from the sign in the church:

GETHSEMANE from GAT + SHEMANIM, means "(Olive) Oil Press". It is the name of a natural grotto next to the "Tomb of Mary" and her Assumption. Jesus often visited the grotto and it was here the He was betrayed and arrested. In time, however, the entire area at the foot of the Mt. of Olives was called Gethsemane.

The Garden of Olives - Located above and to the right of the Grotto of Gethsemane (to the left of the Basilica, facing the facade) and enclosed by a fence. Here there are eight olive trees held by tradition to be the silent witnesses of Jesus' prayer and suffering the evening before His crucifixion.

The Basilica of the Agony was build to recall how Jesus agonized over us to the point of sweating blood (Luke 22:44). This is the third basilica build on this site:

The Byzantine Basilica. Constructed in the time of Theodosius (A.D. 380), it had, at the center of the apse, the "Rock of the Agony" which is still conserved. It was smaller than the present basilica, had a beautiful mosaic floor, and was destroyed in A.D. 614.

The Crusader Basilica was erected in the 12 th century. Remains are still visible to the south (left) of the present church. It was destroyed around A.D. 1200.

The new Basilica. Begun in 1919 after the design of the Byzantine Basilica and planned by architect Antonio Barluzzi, it was completed in 1924. Natural light filtered by alabaster windows creates a climate of prayer and invites one to prostrate oneself before the "Rock of Agony" which has been conserved directly in front of the altar. This basilica is also called "The Church of All Nations" because of the contributions offered by different nations for the mosaics of the apses and cupolas. In order they are:

Mosaics

IRLANDA - The kiss of Judas - M. Bareris

UNGHERIA - Christ in agony - D"Achiardi

PONONIA - "I am" "Ego Sum" - M. Barberis

Cupolas: Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Mexico, Italy, France, Spain, England, Belgium, Canada, Germany, United States

The wrought iron work surrounding the "Rock of Agony: Austrailia.

The Mosaics of the Facade are by Bergellini.

Pieces of the original Byzantine mosaic floor are visible under glass panels.

 

 

There is a mosaic of Judas' kiss in the church.  This is my picture of the rock that the church is built around:

 

It was time to leave so everybody, except Jen, was waiting at the exit.  Daniel had to go back to find Jen. 

Debbie asked "Did you smell the Jasmine?"  She and her sister know many plants and flowers. Very impressive.

Someone asked about the rock in the church.  We were told that IS NOT the rock where Jesus wept! The rock where Jesus wept is actually the rock outside the church in the corner. In the photo above I have an arrow pointing the Rock of Agony in the corner. There was a huge crowd of people when I walked by there the first time. I didn't even notice the sign in the corner. Jen had not appeared to I had time to run back to that corner and get a photo:

 

 

After the Garden, the bus picked us up and drove us closer the wall of the Old City.  We got out of the bus and entered through the Dung Gate. This gate is the closest to the Western Wall and is a main passage for vehicles.  It is called that because this entire area around the gate was under debris (trash, garbage, rubble) and the Jewish quarter was in ruins from 1948 to 1967 when it was under Jordanian control. The Temple Mount was a city dump to erase Jewish identity.

When Israel captured the area in 1967, they started to excavate the entire Jewish quarter.  Right inside the Dung Gate is are the 2nd century ruins of Kardo Street (the main street) for shopping in Old Jerusalem.  Arches lined the Roman Street full of shops.

Then you see the southwest corner of the Temple Mount.  This photo shows where the Western Wall is located and the Al Aqsa Mosque. 

   

 

In 1967 rubble was covering the entire Archaeological Park area.  Trash was piled more than half way up the side of the wall.  "A millennia of destruction was swept over the cliff".  They started to dig. In 1978 they found a storehouse. The more they dig, the further back in time archaeologists go. In 1981 they found evidence of human habitation going back over 5,000 years. They excavated everything first, then attempt to rebuild.. 

 

 

 

The Western Wall is the center of Jewish yearning and memory for more than 2,000 years.  It is the only fragment of the Great Temple to survive the Roman destruction, the Divine Presence has never departed from the Western Wall.  Brief chronology:

 

Around 2000 BC  Isaac is born to Abraham and Sarah.   Abraham came to this place (The Dome of the Rock) to sacrifice his son Isaac.  Isaac fathered Jacob, who slept in this place.

Around 1000 BC, King David ruled the United Kingdom of Israel. He built a Tabernacle to house the sacred Ark of the Covenant.

970 BC David's son Solomon reigns and built the First Temple on what was called Mount Moriah.

586 BC Temple was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar.

520 BC (60 years later ) New Temple foundations laid on what was called Mount Moriah.  Rebuilt and restored by Herod (ruled 37 BC - 4 BC). It was 6 soccer fields long.

In 68 CE, the Romans destroyed Temple. The Western Wall was untouched.

 

The entire Wall is 1700 feet long.  It is made of Stones.  Some stones are up to 40 feet long and up to 500 tons in weight is the biggest stone.  The open air portion of the Western Wall is over 180 feet long and 60 feet high. To the right it stretches another 270 feet (as you face the wall) and to the left it stretches 1,000 feet into the Western Wall tunnels.  Most of the Wall lies beneath today's Old City.

A  tunnel was found.  The photo above points to the where the tunnel entrance and the photo to the right shows the entrance.

We walked through the Dung Gate to the Western Wall.  

It was called the "Wailing Wall" because from 1948 to 1967 (19 years), it was sad that the Arabs only allowed the Jews to the wall one time a year on the day the temple was destroyed.

 

The sign says

The Western Wall is one of four massive walls surrounding the Temple Mount, which is Mount Moriah - where, according to tradition, the world was created: the binding of Isaac took place and this is where both the First and Second temples stood.

After the destruction of the 2nd Temple by the Romans, the Jews were expelled from Jerusalem. Access to the sacred Temple Mound was forbidden. Pilgrims therefore chosed (sic) the Western Wall as the place for prayer and Lamenting - both because of its proximity to the Holy of Holies on the Temple Mount, and because of ancient tradition that "The Divine Presence Never Moves from The Western Wall."

For one thousand, nine hundred year the Wall was deserted but the sight of its stones was engraved on every Jewish heart.

Zionism brought back the Jewish people from around the globe to the ancient Western Wall where mourners lamented the sorrow of exile and celebrated the return of (my picture was cut off here... )

Another sign says:

The Western Wall prayer section is a holy place of worship

Please respect its sanctity

Please wear appropriate head covering

Please refrain from unnecessary conversation during prayers and near worshippers

Please refrain from smoking

Turn cellphones off

Please do not light candles

Please follow usher instructions

 

These are my photos of the wall.  The left if the men's side and the right the women's side divided by a 5 foot tall fence. It was VERY crowded on the women's side.  I had to reach over women to touch the wall. It helps to be tall.

 

 

 

Every nook and cranny was crammed with paper where people have written prayers.  I wonder if anyone ever removes these papers?

Very cool web site of the Western Wall  www.thekotel.org  / http://english.thekotel.org/

The only live video stream of the wall  http://english.thekotel.org/cameras.asp The chain of generations center is in a 2,000 year old underground tunnel.

 

After the wall , we met Daniel under some Arches.  Daniel said we could wander up this very colorful shopping hall:

Spices and seasonings. Dates in the front baskets.

At then end of this Hall, Daniel said that that was as close as I could get to the Dome of the Rock.   Dome of the Rock,  finished 691.

 

 

I had Grampa's photos with me and I convinced the guard to let me step past him so could take a similar photo.  He was quite intrigued by my 1960 photos. Here are some comparison pix: 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We cannot go in the Dome of the Rock, but I found this post card that I scanned to show the big rock inside in the middle of the building.  They mostly use the other Al Aqsa Mosque because there's not very much room to worship here:

 

 

 

Our next adventure on the tour is to walk the Via Dolorosa.  The Via Dolorosa traces the last steps of Jesus.  It starts where he was tried and ends at Calvary, where he was crucified, then laid in the tomb in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where he is buried. There are 14 stations of the cross:


1. Jesus is condemned to death
2. Jesus is given His cross
3. Jesus falls the first time
4. Jesus meets His Mother
5. Simon of Cyrene carries the cross
6. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus
7. Jesus falls the second time
8. Jesus meets the daughters of Jerusalem
9. Jesus falls the third time
10. Jesus is stripped of His garments
11. Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross
12. Jesus dies on the cross
13. Jesus' body is removed from the cross (Deposition or Lamentation)
14. Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense.

The 1st station on the Via Dolorosa starts in the Muslim Quarter and the last station is in the heart of the Christian quarter.

1st Station - Jesus is condemned to death.  The Roman fortress where this took place is now inside a Muslim College. 

See where the thick red line starts in my map of Jerusalem.

2nd Station - Jesus takes up the cross, after being flogged and crowned with thorns.

3rd Station - Jesus falls beneath the weight of the cross for the first time. This is a small chapel with a marble relief above the door.

 

My 2011 photo is on the left.  The photo below is from 1971. The sign says:

IIIrd STATION OF THE WAY OF THE CROSS

THE POLISH BIBLICAL & ARCHAEOLOGIGAL MUSEUM

My

4th Station - Jesus meets his mother Mary.

5th Station - Simon is ordered by the Roman soldiers to help Jesus carry the cross (Mark 15:21)

 21 A certain man from Cyrene, Simon, the father of Alexander and Rufus, was passing by on his way from the country, and they forced him to carry the cross.  This is start of ascent to Calvary.

 

6th Station - Veronica wipes away Jesus's blood and sweat, and her handkerchief reveals an impression of his face.  This is the door to the Chapel of St. Veronica.

At the 7th Station Jesus falls for the second time.

 

The 8th Station is marked by a Latin cross on the wall of a Greek Orthodox Monastery.  This is where Jesus consoles the women of Jerusalem (Luke 23:27-29). 

A large number of people followed him, including women who mourned and wailed for him.

Jesus turned and said to them, Daughters of Jerusalem, do not weep for me; weep for yourselves and for your children.

For the time will come when you will say, Blessed are the childless women, the wombs that never bore, and the breasts that never nursed.

That is where I, a childless woman, am standing in this photo:

 

After the 8th station, we leave the Muslim quarter and go the Christian quarter.   We took some steps up to the roof.  We're all waiting for our group to gather. We lost Jen.  Daniel had to search for her and retrieve her from the walkways below.

Now we are in the heart of Christian quarter.  We passed a Coptic convent.

At noon and we arrive at the 9th Station. This is where Jesus falls for the third time.  The groups that walk the Via Dolorosa with crosses must leave the cross here. We have to walk through buildings at this point.

The door (guarded by the cat) in my photo below is the entrance to the Ethiopian Monastery. It is a cluster of small buildings on the roof of the Chapel of St. Helena. It is used by Ethiopian monks.

 

 

 

We walked through the Monastery, and through Greek Orthodox Patriarchate sanctuary and we ended up on the ROOF of the Holy Sepulchre Church. 

The photo below is where we were standing by the dome is the St. Helena chapel.

The photo to the right is from inside of the chapel looking up at the dome -->

 

 

On the walls of St. Helena chapel there are crosses are chiseled into the stone.
They were carved there by the crusaders, when they came here to pray "after their killing spree" is what I wrote in my journal,  but Daniel did not say that. Daniel said "after the crusades".


This chapel belongs to the Armenians.  Armenia was the 1st country to make Christianity the state religion in AD 301.

From where we were standing on the roof  by the dome, we went through one of the small doorways, then made our way to the stairs down to the courtyard ( see photo below.

This is actually a postcard that I scanned in.  The photo was taken from the minaret of the mosque on the opposite side of the courtyard.

Now we going inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre where the 10th through 14th Stations are located:


10. Jesus is stripped of His garments

11. Crucifixion: Jesus is nailed to the cross at Golgotha (Calvary)

12. Jesus dies on the cross

13. Jesus' body is removed from the cross (Deposition or Lamentation)

14. Jesus is laid in the tomb and covered in incense. 

The Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built between AD 326 to 335. It was built around and on the site of Christ's Crucifixion, burial and Resurrection.

It is a "cavernous jomble of Byzantine and Crusader architecture, with soaring domes, cumken rooms, gloomy light, heavy bronze lamps, squat butresses and elegan arches" AJC 4/10/2016

Control of the building is shared between several (6) Christian churches and secular entities in complicated arrangements essentially unchanged for centuries. Custody is divided among Armenian, Greeks, Copts, Roman Catholics, Ethiopians, and Syrians.

Today it is the headquarters of the Greek Orthodox Patriarch of Jerusalem.  It is the church is home to Eastern Orthodoxy, Oriental Orthodoxy and Roman Catholicism. Anglican and Protestant Christians have no permanent presence in the church.

Every day the church is unlocked by a Muslim key holder acting as a "neutral" intermediary.

Here is the floor plan of the present church

We went in the main entrance of the church - it is a single door built in early 12th century. The right entrance door was blocked up late in the same century.

This narrow way of access to such a large structure has proven to be hazardous at times. For example, when a fire broke out in 1840, dozens of pilgrims were trampled to death. In 1999 the communities agreed to install a new exit door in the church, but there was never any report of this door being completed.

When you enter the church, the far wall has this beautiful mural (this is two of photographs that I combined into one picture):

On the right you see these steep stairs going up to the Golgotha hilltop (the Hill of Calvary) where Jesus was crucified.  "Golgotha" in Hebrew means the "place of the Skull" and was translated into Latin as "Calvary". Christ was crucified over the burial place of Adam's skull. 

 

To the right of the stairs is the Chapel of Adam
(of Adam & Eve - the original sin)
It is built against the Rock of Golgotha and   Adam's scull is buried here. Calvary is right above it (up the stairs).
 

The steps were packed with people when I was there:

 

 

   

You go up the steps to two beautiful chapels. This is a postcard that I scanned in - this shows both chapels.

 

The chapel on the left is the Altar of the Crucifixion - the altar was built directly over the rock where Jesus' crucifixion took place. It is the most lavishly decorated part of the church.  I wish my camera took better pictures - it shows how you can go under the altar to see (touch?) the stone.

Here is postcard that I scanned in - this shows both chapels.

 

 

The main altar contains The Rock of Calvary (12th Station of the Cross).

Under the glass on both sides of the altar, you can see the rock with the hole where the cross was raised. It is the exact place where Jesus' cross stood.

People lined up and waited for their turn to kneel under the altar.  You can tough the rock through a hole in the floor under the altar.

The main altar belongs to the Greek Orthodox, the altar on the right side belongs to the Roman Catholics  which is the 11th Station of the Cross The Chapel of the Nailing of the Cross.

On the left side of the altar, there is a statue of Mary, where Jesus' body was removed from the cross and given to his family and laid on the Stone of the Unction (The Stone of the Anointing).

You have to go down stairs to exit Calvary. The Stone (the 13th Station of the Cross) is just inside the Main Entrance of the church.  This is where the Jesus' body was anointed and wrapped and prepared to be buried.  

This belief is from the crusader era when this stone was added in the 1810 reconstruction.

Here are picture of the stone in 2011, 1971 and 1960.  My 2011 photo shows the lamps that hang over the stone - they were are contributed by Armenians, Copts, Greeks and Latin's.

 

 

 

The Rotunda, under the larger of the church's two domes, is where the Holy Sepulchre (Christ's Tomb) is located.  Built in 1810.

There are two rooms:  One room holds The Angel's Stone, a fragment of the stone believed that sealed the tomb where Jesus was buried.  The second room is the tomb itself.  The inner Chapel (the 14th Station) has a marble slab that covers the place where Christ's body was laid. The slab was installed in 1555 and cracked on purpose to deter looters.

The status quo for the Rotunda is that Greek Orthodox (Eastern Orthodox), Roman Catholic, and Armenian (Orthodox) Apostolic Churches all have rights to the interior of Christ's tomb, and all three Christian communities celebrate the Divine Liturgy or Holy Mass there daily.  

 

The Atlanta Journal Constitution April 10, 2016 article by Diaa Hadid ""Christian rivals unit to save tomb of Jesus. Risk of collapse grows at dilapidated shrine"

Christ's tomb 206 years old. It is where Jesus was placed after he was crucified. (There is also a rival Tomb outside the city walls....)

 The ornate marble shell was built in 1810. It is held together by a 69-year old iron cage (build in 1947).

It is at risk of collapse (closed for several hours on 2/17/2015) Fix it, or else.

A March 22 agreement call for a $3.4 million renovation, each religious group to contribute one third the cost.

This is a good diagram that shows how the Church of the Holy Sepulchre was built on top of Christ's Tomb and Golgotha.

 

 

Daniel took us to a place for lunch.  We paid, well most of us paid.  Pita falafel for 30 shekels or a Lamb kabob for 75.  Debbie ate half of her sandwich and set it down.  Jen grabbed it and started eating it.  That was odd.  Debbie was very gracious and didn't say anything.  It was like Jen expected things to be given to her and when they weren't given, she took.

Daniel heard us talking about the incident. Daniel got the restaurant to give Jen a sandwich gratis.  So she got more to eat than anyone!

After lunch we walked through the shopping area.  Here I am and here is grandma 50 years ago also shopping.

Check out this pomegranate press for fresh glass of juice!

 

We walked from the Christian quarter to Armenian Quarter.  We walked through beautifully rebuilt shopping streets. All of this was under rubble.  They excavated first, then rebuilt.  This was the Main street with arches, neat shops that we walked down.  Right beside the jewelry store was active excavations:

 

Sign by this excavation:

Throughout history the city of Jerusalem has been destroyed and rebuild upon the ruins from eralier (sic) periods. With the natural growth in population the city was broadened during rebuilding.

The pier in front of you contains a segment of the First Temple Period City Wall (destroyed in 586 BC by the Babylonians) and the next pier contains segments of the city walls from both First and Second Temple Periods (2nd Temple destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE).

I saw a t-shirt with a fighter jet printed on the front.  The text said : "America don't worry,  Israel is behind you".

I actually bought some souvenirs - Thin vases $3 USD each.

We are in the Armenian quarter now.  Here is Mosque minaret and Synagogue. Daniel said that there is always a mosque near a synagogue.  The mosque has a lot of old rough stone.  The Synagogue has huge new expensive arch.

We walked by the "Studio for Armenian Pottery by Hagop"  It was very near the Zion Gate. The gate was busy with car traffic. They have to zigzag thru the stone passage. We walked through the gate through En-Nabi Dawoud Square to the other side of the  wall to exit the Old City.

 

Outside the wall, there are millions of bullet marks! They were left there on purpose.

 

It was a short walk to the Hall of the Last Supper.  There is statue of King David across from the building. The building is from the 12th century.

1st floor is King David's tomb.

2nd floor is the Upper Room where we visited first.

Here is the Upper Room. Wow! I never imagined it would be a place to ornate!

 

 

We exited the Upper Room to the courtyard in the back.  They are doing a lot of construction on the building.

Our Pastor Dave (wearing jeans in the photo to the right) did some teaching and reading the breaking of the bread.  I think Daniel enjoyed the tour guide break.

Next we went down to the first floor to King David's tomb.

 

David was the second king of Israel according to the Hebrew Bible and, according to the Gospels of Matthew and Luke, an ancestor of Jesus Christ through both Saint Joseph and Mary. He is a poet, traditionally credited for composing many of the Psalms

His life is conventionally dated to c. 1040  to 970 BC,

Jewish tradition maintains that a direct descendant of David will be the Messiah. In Islam, he is known as Dawud, considered to be a prophet and the king of a nation.

Fanaticism is taking over so now there are separate sides for women and men. What?!?  We entered the "Women Prayer section".  The view of the tomb was blocked by high wooden walls. This is all that we got to see of the tomb: 

 

3:10 pm and we walking to Caiaphus house.  We are still on Mt. Zion.  We were walking down the street Khativat Yerushalayim.  Daniel pointed out on the other side is the cemetery where Arthur Oscar Schindler is buried. 

We arrive at St. Peter in Gallicantu Church (built on the location of Caiaphus house). The hills of Jordan are in the background.

There is golden rooster on the roof of the church. The sign on the church said "Peter Galocantos". "Galo" means rooster, "Cantos" means sing. Where the cocks crow. "Non novi nium"  Peter deny 3 times from scripture: 

Matthew 26:34

Jesus replied, I tell you the truth, Peter this very night, before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me.

 Matthew 26:74 - 75

Peter swore, A curse on me if I'm lying I don't know the man! And immediately the rooster crowed. Suddenly, Jesus' words flashed through Peter's mind: Before the rooster crows, you will deny three times that you even know me. And he went away, weeping bitterly.

From Wikipedia:   

Joseph, son of Caiaphas, commonly known simply as Caiaphas in the New Testament, was the Roman-appointed Jewish high priest who is said to have organized the plot to kill Jesus. Caiaphas is also said to have been involved in the Sanhedrin trial of Jesus.

According to the Gospel accounts, Caiaphas was the major antagonist of Jesus. An ossuary of the high priest, Joseph Caiaphas, was found in Jerusalem in 1990. However, the authenticity of that discovery has been challenged by some scholars on various grounds.

 

The door of the church

 

Very sparse (clean, uncluttered) inside:

The round banister in the middle is the opening to the Sacred pit.  It is a hole where they lowered Jesus into the pit. This round hole is the ceiling was the only way in or out of the pit. You had to be lowered to the dark hole with rope down to this dark hole.

 This is text of the sign about the pit dungeon:

Sacred pit (dungeon)

Excavations in 1889 uncovered 3 Byzantine crosses engraved in the orifice at the top, 7 red and 4 black oxide crosses on the walls, and the silhouette of a praying figure on the lower south wall.

The findings, along with the ruins of a church and a large number of mosaics, coins, and religious artifacts, testify to the presence of a 5th century shrine venerated by the Byzantine community.

Prompted by the dungeon-like appearance of the pit and its proximity to Caiaphas' palace thought to have been located in this general area, the Byzantines recalled here Jesus' imprisonment overnight as he awaited trial before Caiaphas and the Sanhedrin. Faithful to his ancient tradition, Christians continue to remember Jesus, the Suffering Servant of the Lord, placing on his lips the of the psalmist:

"My soul is surfeited with troubles... You have plunged me into the bottom of the pit... Upon me your wrath lies heavy... I am imprisoned and cannot escape... O Lord, I call upon you"  (Ps 88).

They had built steps down into the pit so we could stand where Jesus bled. This is my photo of the hole in the ceiling of the pit.  The picture of Jesus with ropes, used to lower him down, is from the outside of the church.

 

This mosaic of Jesus being lowered into the dungeon was on the outside of the church.  The inscription under it is "They put me in a deep hole."

 

I am inside the deep hole. 

This is where Jesus was kept the night before he was crucified. It was about 8' by 10' room.

Dave read Psalm 88. Wow.   Very powerful and emotional.

The entire basement Caiaphus' house chiseled into the rock was a the prison.  This is text of the sign about the underground dungeons:

Underground caves (Prison)

When these underground caves were rediscovered in 1889, their physical characteristics, their proximity to the Caiaphas palace, and their contiguity with the Sacred Pit (dungeon), all suggested the public jail where, according to a 4th century Jerusalem tradition not recorded in the gospels, Jesus would have been scourged not only by Pilate but also by Caiaphas, and where the apostles Peter and John would have been held and scourged for preaching the name of Jesus in the temple area after the resurrection (Acts 5:19-42)

Aided by the context, Christians traditionally recall here some of the painful sufferings endured by Jesus during his Passion, regardless of where they took place, as well as by the apostles, the first believers in his name.

 

 Map Legend

 

A. Sacred pit

B. Original access to the cavity when its floor was undoubtedly at a higher level

C. Orifice in the value, with 3 engraved Byzantine crosses, probably pierced when the cavity's floor was dug to a deeper level.

D. Opening between Sacred Pit and adjacent underground caves.

E. Present entrance to Sacred Pit, possibly pierced by the Byzantines.

F. Inner courtyard around which are 7 pillars, all paired symmetrically except one.

GH. Underground caves to whose walls were once attached numerous iron rings.

I. Stepping stone.

J. Access steps to inner courtyard.

P. Stone columns, some of which have been reinforced and covered with cement.

 

This is my picture of the inner courtyard.  I can never seem to get prison photos in focus. I'm also glad that my photo of the torture room in the KGB Prison in Vilnius, Lithuania was blurry. That's not something that you should see in focus.  Like distorting reality. We don't want to believe that things like this happen. I digress. Here's the prison in Caiaphus' house:

Behind the church the are still excavating. It's been 150 years and it is still being excavated. The y have uncovered the original Roman steps down from Caiaphas house. The City of David web site  http://www.cityofdavid.org.il/hp_eng.asp  is a good place to see what they are doing and what they have found.

4 pm and we are standing outside overlooking all the archeological digs.  An eerie sound in the distance. Chanting from minarets for Muslims to pray.

 4:10 and we are leaving the church.  I was so so very tired.  Yeah the bus came to pick us up. 

We asked about going to the Israel Museum, Jerusalem, http://www.english.imjnet.org.il/htmls/home.aspx.  No go.  It closes at 5 pm to there is no time.   Next time I want to see this museum and the Shrine of the Book and Mini Israel http://www.minisrael.co.il/?categoryId=42583 . I did make a special trip in 2005 to Alabama to see the Dead Sea Scrolls.

About Israel's national museum.

Founded 1965.  It is 20-acre campus that includes 500,000 objects with some 7,000 objects and works currently online.

It includes the Shrine of the Book - a unique white dome building that houses the Dead Sea Scrolls, discovered 1947, 56 in 11 caves in and around the Wadi Qumran.

And a Model of Jerusalem in the Late 2nd Temple Period

We rode the bus back to the hotel. When Pat and Dave realized that we were going back to the hotel so they got off the bus!  They wanted to walk back and see more of the city.  That was impressive.

At the hotel I was walking toward my room and I looked down the hallway and I saw Jen. I knew her room was on a different floor. What in the world was she doing trying to get into someone else's room?  She told me to "tell them to let me into my room".  I wasn't about to help her get into someone else's room.  I told her that she had to take the elevator to the floor where her room was. 

That night I ventured out to find the Jaffa gate. 

I found Mamilla Ave. It was a pedestrian street with shops and decorated with lights and artwork for sale.

I found the Arc of the Covenant!  It's for sale.  The Artist if Sam Philipe

This was a beautiful statue of The Binding of Isaac.  I saved the National Geographic from December 2001 that featured the same story on the cover:

   

This act of faith recorded in the Old Testament is also written in the New Testament Book of Hebrews 11:17–19


By faith Abraham, when God tested him, offered Isaac as a sacrifice. He who had embraced the promises was about to sacrifice his one and only son even though God had said to him "
"It is through Isaac that your offspring will be reckoned." Abraham reasoned that God could then raise the dead, an so in a manner of speaking he did receive Isaac back from the death
.
 

Abraham - the patriarch of three monotheistic faiths - Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. All regard themselves as Abraham's spiritual offspring.

Muslims make the hajj to Mecca to circle the Kaaba - the shrine that God commanded Abraham (they say Ibrahim) and his son Ishmael to build.

Jews claim they inherited God's blessing through Abraham's son Isaac and his son Jacob.

Christian trace their spiritual lineage from Jesus to Abraham, whose obedience, service, and sacrifice prefigured the coming of the Messiah.

 

I finally get to the Jaffa Gate.  This also the location of the Tower of David where the light show is done.

To get back I followed Mamilla Avenue, then I had to look for the Waldorf Astoria under construction and follow that road back to the hotel.  I was super tired. Really tired. But I thought I needed to organize my pictures.  I brought my netbook so I could transfer the pix from the camera card in the computer and free the space on the card.  I thought I was being oh so very carful. Yeah right.  Well, it happened that, yes, I did accidently remove/delete/hose some pictures.  It was my big pix Oops.  Yeah. That really sucked. 100Nikon2 folder accidently deleted. I though it was old Jerusalem, via dolorosa, etc .F.  I immediately removed the SD card and set it aside hoping that could recover the deleted files on an SD card. 202 pix gone. Maybe. Recover. 

After trip note: YES! you can recover deleted files on an SD card!  Yeah! But you cannot recover files that you have saved over.  So.... yes, I lost some pix, but only the garden Tomb photos.  That's a shame. I took many photos there. I had a great photo of Dave giving communion.  Gone (the photo that is).  While I was on the trip, I absolutely refused to get upset about doing that oops. I would think about it, then immediately change my thoughts.  I absolutely was not going to let that ruin my trip.  Jen was doing a good enough of that already.

I saw on the news that night there were West Bank clashes of rock throwing between Israeli and Palestinians.  Palestine is trying for statehood at the UN today. We were not affected by any of that. Those were nice Arab police that I left my Dome of Rock photos with. That photo is gone. Wailing wall. Gone. Whatever. I'll get all of Paul's pix. F.

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DAY 6 Wednesday September 21 Jerusalem, Masada, Eilat

Itinerary South toward the Dead Sea, passing the caves of Qumran, where the precious Dead Sea Scrolls were found.

Arrive at Masada and ascend by cable car to the spectacular cliff-top FORTRESS.

Hear how 960 Jewish zealots preferred death at their own hands to the indignity of surrender to overwhelming Roman forces.

Next, continue to the resort of Eilat, beautifully situated on the Red Sea for your overnight stay.

Breakfast and Dinner included today.

 

Plan for today: Leave at 8 am, Ahava factory visit at 9, Masada about 10 am for a 2 hours visit, Lunch, Leave Masada by 2, Kibbutz visit, then 3 hour drive to Eilat in the Gulf a Aquaba.    It is 38 in Eilat where are going today!!! 37 is 98.6 degrees F. We're driving the RED LINE in this map to the right:

 

This map shows a little more detail where we are driving along the Dead Sea.

The entire Southern part of the Sea is evaporating!

 

 

  

Wednesday we were supposed to leave at 8 am.  Jen was 20 minutes late today. It was getting worse every day.

We were pissed. Bev said "Bless her heart" . Bev is from Oklahoma and now she lives on the West coast (Los Angeles). We had to explain to her that "Bless her heart" is the Southern way of swearing.  We were so done with always waiting on Jen. Bless her heart.

So we left the hotel at 8:20, Jen in the passenger seat putting on her make up.  Daniel shared some interesting facts on the drive:

Babies

The fertility rate is Israel is 2.06 children born/woman.

In USA it is 2.7  (2011 est.)

In Germany, Italy, Spain, Greece it is less than 1.5!

(The replacement rate is 2.1)

There are about 350,000 Jewish settlers in the West Bank.

Housing costs about 30% less in the West Bank.

The rest of our trip is in the desert.

From here to Amman it would take less than 2 hours to drive.

Daniel told us that Netanyahu is flying to NY to talk to the UN today.

I really appreciated that he shared his opinions.  He doesn't think Israel will be able to give the settlement land back. "Maybe we need to give them other land. I don't know"

We are passing new condo clusters of neighborhoods in the desert hillside and hill top. The name of a settlement town is Ma'ale Adummnin or Ma'ale Adummin.

Israeli exports an arid zone agriculture.

The Dead Sea did go all the way up to the Sea of Galilee and 15 miles south.   The water level in the Dead Sea water is dropping.  Because water is being captured in reservoirs for agriculture so it does not get to Dead Sea. They have computerized very sophisticated agriculture.

Palm date trees drink a lot of water.  Date palm plantation is all female wit some males to artificially pollenate female trees.   1 kilo of dates is about $8 USD.

500 million birds a year fly through Israel!

We stopped to take photos at Sea Level. The sign said "Niveau De La Mer, Sea Level"  5 minutes later we are at -150 meters BELOW sea level. Elevation drops fast!

We stopped at the AHAVA Dead Sea Laboratories http://www.ahavaus.com/.  Founded 1988. They wouldn't start the tour until the entire group was present, so again we wait on Jen....A bit from their web site:

The Dead Sea is blessed with four sources of skin-healthy elements that occur naturally in its unique ecosystem: water, mud, salt, and plants.  The Sea is a unique salty lake and muddy shoreline that holds the Earth's greatest concentration of skin-moisturizing minerals; sea water filled with a one-of-a-kind, age- delaying algae; and skin-soothing plants that grow in the driest desert conditions. 

They use these ingredients to make products for the face, body and makeup: cleanser, toner, exfoliator, mask, anti aging serums, eye cream, body moisturizer, hand & foot creams, shower products, bath salts, dead sea specialties, sun care

They cultivated a unique brand identity that is synonymous with the richness, purity and natural goodness that define this mineral rich basin. They have rightfully earned the reputation as the definitive Dead Sea cosmetic brand.

I was not amazed to see people (mostly women, and men also) buying hundreds of dollars of products.  It was not cheap.  I am NOT a spa, high-end product person so I easily walked out of there without spending anything.


Back in the bus. 
We passed Qumran. It is an archaeological site in the West Bank. It is located on a dry plateau about a mile inland from the northwestern shore of the Dead Sea. The settlement was constructed 134-104 BCE.

Members of the dead sea scrolls sect settled here at the end of the 2nd century BC during the period of King Herod (37 BC - 4 BC) the place was abandoned, but was later resettled by members of the same sect.

During the wars of the Jews against the Romans (66-70 CE) the place was conquered by the Romans and left deserted.

It is best known as the settlement nearest to the caves in which the Dead Sea Scrolls were hidden, caves in the sheer desert cliffs and beneath, in the marl terrace.

Since the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls in 1947-1956, extensive excavations have taken place in Qumran. Nearly 900 scrolls were discovered. Most were written on parchment and some on papyrus. Cisterns, Jewish ritual baths, and cemeteries have been found, along with a dining or assembly room and debris from an upper story alleged by some to have been a scriptorium as well as pottery kilns and a tower.

 

At 9:20 we went through the border between the West Bank and Israel. Just north of En Gedi.

I had a moment just now when I remembered about accidently deleting pictures - "I don't want to think about it. I refuse to get upset about the idiot delete I did last night. Whatever."

There a odd smell in air.  Daniel said it was Bromide, Magnesium, and Sulfur.

En Gedi is the location of a huge spa.

Pix trees En Gedi Spa. Tractor has to shuttle people to the sea. 20 years ago the spa resort was on the water.

From Wikipedia:  Ein Gedi Spa is a wellness center along the Dead Sea, Israel, fed by the waters of the Dead Sea. It provides health by the four elements of the area: water, air, sun, and mud. The spa has hot pools that are filled with sulfur water. It is a famous attraction on the shore of the Dead Sea.

The spa is known for its unpleasant odor resulting from the sulphur  springs. However, it still draws large crowds who believe in its health benefits.

Initially built directly along the shoreline of the Dead Sea, due to the sea's shrinkage, the spa is now found at quite a distance from the lake.

My photo below shows "quite a distance" indeed!  A transport is required to get to the sea:

Then we arrive at Masada.  We are on route 90.  Masada is about 90 minutes from Jerusalem

MASADA  

There are 11 UNESCO sites in Israel.  Masada is one.

Ruins were discovered in 1842. In 1960 archaeologist finally began scratching away at the ruins here.

The Masada Museological Experience states "Death (a state of freedom) or slavery under romans.  Jews chose death. "

Masada is a symbol for the Jewish people. They cannot be conquered. Prayers replace sacrifice here. The Torah replaces the Ark.

There is a movie that tells the story of Masada with Peter O'toole.

About 1000 zealot Jews were besieged here for 2 years knowing their days would end. In the end, 1 woman, 2 children were left alive.  It is the last bastion of Jewish freedom fighters against the Romans.  It is Jewish cultural icon and a symbol of humanity's continuous struggle for freedom from oppression.

Here's a map of Masada: 

 

 

  You can hike up "The Snake Path" or take the cable car.  The "Aerial Ropeway"  was built in 1998.  

Length of travel 900 m.  Altitude bottom station -257 m.sea level. Altitude top station +33 m.sea level.

Travel speed max 8m/second. Travel time 3 minutes. Hourly capacity  1200/people per hour

Track rope diameter 53mm. Upper haul rope 35 mm. Lower haul rope 32 mm.

 

The craggy citadel of Masada reminded me of Sigiriya in Sri LankaSigiriya is a flat rock that is 650 feet (200 m) high.  Sigiriya rises "sheer and impregnable out of the denuded plains of the dry zone where a huge community lived on top of the stone.  Stone Mountain in Atlanta Georgia, is 825 feet high  http://www.stonemountainpark.com/.  

The cliffs on the east edge of Masada are about 1,300 feet (400 m) high and the cliffs on the west are about 300 feet (91 m) high; The top is around 950 feet high (290 m).  The top of the plateau is flat, about 1,800 feet (550 m) by 900 feet (270 m).

All around the top, there was a casemate wall totaling 4,300 feet (1.3 km) long and 12 feet (3.7 m), with many towers, and the fortress included storehouses, barracks, an armory, the palace, and cisterns that were refilled by rainwater. Three narrow, winding paths led from below up to fortified gates.

Herod the Great fortified Masada between 37 and 31 BCE as a refuge for himself in the event of a revolt. Herod's winter fortress is labeled "Northern Palace in the map above.

In 66 CE, at the beginning of the First Jewish-Roman War against the Roman Empire, a group of Jewish extremists  overcame the Roman garrison of Masada.

In 72, the Roman governor laid siege to Masada. 8,000 troops built 8 camps.   The rampart made of wood and wooden supports was complete in the spring of 73, after probably two to three months of siege, allowing the Romans to finally breach the wall of the fortress with a battering ram on April 16, 74.

 

The picture to the right is the battering ram that the Roman built on the Siege Ramp --------------------------->

Josephus Flavius recorded the story of Masada, The Wars of the Jews, VII 320-336.  Excerpts from Eleazar Ben-Yair's (leader of the Zealots) speech

 

Since we, long ago resolved never to be servants to the Romans... the time is now come that obliges us to make that resolution true in practice....while we formerly would not undergo slavery, we must now choose such punishments also as intolerable.. The Romans once reduced us under their power while we are alive. We were the first to revolt and we are the last to fight against them... it is still in our power to die bravely, and in a state of freedom, which hath not been the case of others, who were conquered unexpectedly.  It is plain that we will be taken within a day, but it is still possible to die a glorious manner with our friends.

Let our wives die before they are abused, and our children before they have tasted slavery; and after we have slain them, let us bestow that glorious benefit upon one another and preserve our freedom.  But first destroy our money and the fortress by fire ; for I am assured that this will be a bitter blow to the Romans,  that they shall not be able to seize upon our bodies, and shall fail t our wealth also: and let us spare nothing but our provisions; for they will be a testimonial when we are dead that we have no want of necessaries; but that we have preferred death before slavery.

 

 

According to Josephus, when they entered the fortress, however, the Romans discovered that its 960 inhabitants had set all the buildings but the food storerooms ablaze and committed mass suicide. Modern archaeologists have found no evidence of mass suicide and only some thirty skeletons have been recovered on the site.

"Observing this, Silva, thinking it easer to destroy this wall by fire, ordered his soldiers to hurl at it showers of burning torches... At the first outbreak of fire, a north wind which blew in the faces of the Romans caused them alarm; for diverting the flame from above, it drove it against them... Then suddenly the wind veering, as if by divine providence, to the south and blowing with full force in the opposite direction, wafted and flung the flames against the wall, which now through and through was all ablaze." - Josephus Flavius

When night fell, and it was clear that the situation was hopeless and that the Romans would break in at dawn, Eleazar Ben Ya'ir assembled his followers and called for mass suicide.   Men killed their wives and children, then cast lots to choose 10 men to kill those who remained alive. The last remaining rebel then killed himself.

"The Romans, expecting further opposition... were at a loss to conjecture what had happened... Here encountering the mass of the slain, instead of exulting as over enemies, they admired the nobility of the resolve and the contempt of death displayed by so many in caring it, unwavering, into execution." - Josephus Flavius

The excavation here uncovered ballista balls and arrowheads, numerous slingshots and signs of burning, evidence of the battle that raged at this spot.

Sign at the siege wall:  Here the siege of Masada ended. The ramp that the Romans had build up to the summit of the mountain reached to below this point. At the top of the ramp rose the siege tower, and in it was the battering ram with which the Romans assaulted the casemate wall. However, the rebels had built a wall of earth and wood, against which the batter ram was ineffective.

"Long since, my brave men, we determined neither to server the Romans nor any other save God..." - Josephus Flavius

Here is my photo from the top of Masada:

 

The rectangles of stone in the photo above are Roman encampments.  There were 8,000 Roman troops in 8 camps around the mountain.

When you get to the top, it is huge and barren.

"At first glance the summit is anticlimactic. It spills out for hundreds of years, a softly rolling floor of rock, broken up by crumbling ruins" - Ron Feinberg Climbing Masada, Atlanta Journal Constitution, April 11, 2004.

The buildings are spread out.  In the rebuilt buildings, there is black line on the buildings shows new construction.  Here is their suggested route:

The "Columbarium Tower" is the dovecot where doves and pigeons were raised.  There were three columbarium tower on Masada.  There are several hundred niches in which doves roosted.  They were used for meat and the droppings used for fertilizer for agricultural crops.

The Synagogue

The rebels' way of life on Masada required a building suitable for community meetings and Torah readings. This building, which became a synagogue during the revolt, was build in Herod's time, most likely as a stable.

The rebels changed its internal structure and even closed off a small room in the corner of the hall, which apparently served for storage of Torah scrolls and as a geniza (repository for damaged scrolls). Under its floor were found fragments of Biblical scrolls, including the "Vision of the Dry Bones" in the Book of Ezekiel. The synagogue at Masada is one of the very few discovered so far from that date from the Second Temple period.

 

A scribe is inside writing the Torah.  It takes about a year to write the Torah.

 

They built a huge, dark water cisterns.  They used plaster to make cistern waterproof.  When there is light, there is life. Keep cistern in the dark. 

Bathing in Roman Style 

"The fittings of the interior - apartments, colonnades and baths - were of manifold variety and sumptuous..." Josephus Flavius

Beyond the human need for cleanliness, the bathhouse also had a social function. Bathing and the associated physical activities were an important element in Roman social and cultural life, to which Herod aspired. This was where the king and his guests met, bathed and exercised. The sophisticated bathing arrangements, which are reminiscent of a dry sauna in our days, the vivid wall painting and the colorful stone floors demonstrate the opulence, the high standard of living and the importance that Herod assigned to the bathhouses in his palaces. Bathing took place in the room inside the building, and the bathers exercised in the courtyard, which was surrounded by a roofed colonnade.

In the period of the revolt, the bathhouse was adapted to the rulings relating to bathing and purity in Jewish law. We find evidence of this in the two ritual bath (mikvehs) and the bench built from the dismantled columns of the courtyard.

This is my photo of one of the rooms in the bath.  They had paved floors and frescos and beautiful mosaics. There was no soap, so they used stones scrape off filth.

This room has a double floor where hot air flowed and rose through the clay pipes in the walls

There is also public immersion pool AND a swimming pool that is 550 cubic meters.

Here are some of the storerooms. There were 29 long rooms to hold food, liquids, and weapons.  Josephus: "For here had been stored a mass of corn sufficient to last for years, abundance of wine and oil, and every variety of dates".   The Romans found them stocked with supplies. The zealots want for nothing.

 

We are ready to descend the mountain top and almost everyone is in cable car to go down. Daniel has to run back to coax Jen to join us in the cable car.  She not going to.  Someone said she was trying to make a phone call.  Daniel had to order her to get in the car because we had to stay on schedule.  She wanted to stay at the top of Masada.  Maybe she was getting better phone reception. I don't know.  So she finally got in the car, the doors close and begin our descent.  Our treacherous and torturous descent.  I say that because for 3 minutes Jen started with the unintelligible babble and loud "singing".  You can't understand the words and I didn't recognize the "melody" (if you could call it that).  It was quite embarrassing.  I just looked away and gazed out the window trying to ignore the unwelcome distraction.  It really gave everyone in that cable car something to talk about later.

Pat said that a guy commented to his friend about "Americans" and shook his head in a disapproving way.  He asked  Pat "Do you know her?"  His response "I'll pray for you."

At the bottom there a huge tourist's building. There was a large lunch area which included McDonalds.  Everybody passed on that and we headed for the buffet.  I got all dark meat (my fav) chicken. Buffet included veggies and salad (pass on that). I also had a coupon to get a free chocolate muffin. yummers The kabob's weren't on the grill long enough so doneness was questionable.  My lunch was delish.  Cost was $17 USD. Drinks are an extra $5 USD.

 

At 1:15 we pulled out of Masada.  As we drove along the edge of the Dead Sea, you could see hotels on the Jordan side of the sea.

 

1:50 we passed The Dead Sea Company:

The Dead Sea Company is dividing up pools of water at the South end of the Dead Sea.  The water pools evaporate and they harvest the salt. This process is speeding up the process of the Dead Sea drying up.

The Dead Sea Co. also makes Potassium. There is a 10 mile conveyor to take it up to the port to it on ships to export. They also export Magnesium,  which is what kills you if you drink dead sea water.

 Natural gas was found recently.

We stopped at a Kibbutz!   South of Lotan kibbutz is the Yovada kibbutz.  It is the biggest dairy farm in Israel. They also grow dates and vegetables.  It has been here for 40 years. I got a very delicious cappuccino and an ice cream Dulce de Leche flavor. Yum. 

Pat mentioned to Jen that there was an ATM in Yovada. It worked for her and she got 400 Shekels ~ $100 USD!

Daniel said that they tried to repopulate this area with wild life. They brought antelope, ostriches, wild asses.

 

While we were waiting on Jen to return, I asked the bus driver about his job.  He can work for 10 hours, and he must sleep for 7 hours.

As we are driving through this desert, this landscape reminds me a little of Tibet.  Tall, brown mountains. 

To took a photo of the Palm trees. The Jordan mountains are in the background behind the tree plantation. We can see cars on the road where we will be tomorrow.

We arrive in Eilat. 

Israel's southernmost city, a busy port as well as a popular resort, located at the northern tip of the Red Sea, on the Gulf of Eilat (or Gulf of Aqaba). Home to 46,600 people, the city is part of the Southern Negev Desert, at the southern end of the Arava. The city is adjacent to the Egyptian village of Taba to the south, the Jordanian port city of Aqaba to the east, and within sight of Saudi Arabia to the south-east, across the gulf.

Eilat's arid desert climate is moderated by proximity to a warm sea. Temperatures often exceed 40 C (104 F) in summer, and 21 C (70 F) in winter, while water temperatures range between 20 and 26 C (68 and 79 F). The city's beaches, nightlife and desert landscapes make it a popular destination for domestic and international tourism.

 

It's been a long day so far, but alas, this is a tour, thus another tour stop.  We went to a stone carving shop. Eilat Stone. He said the Eilat Stone is Malechite, which I love, but I didn't see much of it in the shop. Also Azurite.  Here are some of their stones:

I did not need to buy any of their stones.  Here is a picture of some of MY stones that I have collected:

 

This is the info on the business card that I got in the shop:

Yehuda Levinzon     Souvenirs & Gifts  Unique Art & Judaica    Hand-Made

Cadurit Eilat Stone (next to El-Gaucho), Industrial Area, Eilat,Israel.  Tel 972-8-6319003

Finally a short drive to the hotel.  Wow, What a nice hotel!  There was a huge welcome sign in the lobby for our Globus group.  Welcome drinks were ready for us.  Check in, get keys.

Hotel in EILAT Sept 21 to Sept 22, 2011

Rimonim Hotel Eilat  North Shore Eilat, P.O.Box 259 Eilat 88102  Tel: +972-836 9369 http://english.rimonim.com/eilat-hotels/rimonim-eilat-hotel

Found on the northern shores of the Red Sea, right on the Eilat beach and with a view to the Edom mountains, stands one of the resort's premier hotels in Eilat, the Rimonim Eilat Hotel.

Recently renovated fresh and contemporary in style, the service meanwhile remains classically exceptional and the hospitality warm. Rimonim Eilat Hotel presents a memorable experience to each and every guest.

Hotel swimming pool( half Olympic size),in-house pharmacy, and private beach at the hotel seafront. We offer chaise lounges, relaxing hammocks, fresh towels and an abundance of sun and blue sky at no additional charge. The beach is open from 07:00 am to 05:30 pm with lifeguard supervision

 

I rolled my little suitcase up to my room, open the door and I smell smoke.  Whatever. It was not going to make a fuss because it had an awesome view.   Check it out!!!!  There were 3 swimming pools, and easy access to swim in the RED SEA!  Beautiful.

 

I opened the huge sliding glass door - which cut off the air conditioning in the room.  That's a great energy saving idea - a door closed sensor to determine when to turn the cool air on.

I changed into my swim suit.   I walked past the pools (plural), through a security gate to public promenade along the Red Sea and out to the beach.  What a beautiful setting.  I put my stuff down on a chair and I heard my name. 

Dave and Pat were already in the water!  She said it was warm.  Wrong. It was cold!!!   I swam a bit. There was a very warm breeze so the air was warmer then the water. The water was very clear and very salty.  It took very little effort to float on my back with feet out of water. We were told that Red Sea water temp always 26. 

There was no sand - just small pebbles for about 20 feet out, then course sand. The water was crystal clear.  I could see while shells about 20 feet down. 

I was noticing that the Yamaka (hat) is a great sunscreen for men with thin (or no) hair on top.

I went back to my room, took a shower, washed my hair and got ready to go down to dinner.

Jen was in the hallway near the elevators.  She could not get into her room.  I asked her which room is hers and I took her key and tried. The key didn't work. I told her that she had to go down to the desk and get a new key.  She took the key and walked back down the hallway away from the elevators.  Odd.     

I went down to the dining room.  It's a huge room with buffets everywhere and a hundred tables.  I got a plate of food.  Pat and Dave came in I pointed to my table.  We had a very nice dinner and great conversation.  We had some entertainment also.  A big table of 12 people had left a lot of food on their plates. The big table was in the very back of the room. A very coy cat, slowly surveyed the situation and grabbed food from the table.  We saw him do it more than once.  The cat knew he was not supposed to be doing that.  It was entertaining....

 

Other entertaining things to do in Eilat 

Glass Bottom Boats   http://www.israel-yam.co.il/

Tours http://sole-tours.com/

Ice Space in the Red Sea Tower (Spiral Complex) marina http://www.ice-space.co.il/eilat-attraction-brochures.htm#eng

Coral World Underwater Observatory http://www.coralworld.com/eilat/

Dolphin Reef http://www.dolphinreef.co.il/

Hai-Bar Wildlife and Coral Reef Reserve http://www.parks.org.il/

IMAX http://www.imaxeilat.co.il/

Cinema - Eilat Theatre http://www.ereverev.co.il/

International Birdwatching Center http://www.birds.org.il/14-en/Birding-Israel.aspx

In Latrun - International Center forth Study of Bird Migration http://www.birds.org.il/713-en/Birding-Israel.aspx

 

 

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News

 

Oasis Hotel Casino Resort - In 1998 In the Muslim town of Jericho in the West Bank the Oasis Hotel Casino Resort opened.  It was $150 million project by Austrian company. There are dirt roads of Palestinian refugee camps across the street.  

In 2000 it closed:  http://casinosaustriainternational.com/operations/oasis_hotel_casino_resort

Due to the ongoing situation in the Middle East and the closure of the area around Jericho to Israeli citizens and tourist visitors, the Oasis Hotel Casino Resort had to close its casino operations in October 2000. Prior to its closure, the casino was one of the most successful casino operations worldwide, with over 120 gaming tables and some 300 slot machines. The casino remains fully equipped and ready to reopen as soon as political circumstances in the region permit.

 

 

 

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TIME LINE

3100 - 4000 BC The Copper Age

1096 - 1291 The Crusades

1917 - 1949 The British Mandate

May 1, 1948 The State of Israel is established, and immediately being attacked by all its neighbors

November, 2011

 

 

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