Friday, February 22, 2013

Jerusalem and Bethlehem

It's around 9:00 here in Jerusalem. I would have posted sooner, but amazingly, our hotel doesn't have free Wifi.....anywhere. I needed to facetime with the girls, so I'm paying for a day of access. I'm ready for bed, but I want to get caught up with the trip.

Day 3 of the trip began with a stop in Tiberias, a key city in the Israeli diamond industry. It was cool to learn a little about the diamond industry, but the whole point of the stop was to get us to buy jewelry. I'm sure the tour company gets a kickback from the diamond company, but I could have done without this stop.

can't beat the view, but no Wifi.....seriously?
Our next stop was Beit She'an, another Roman ruin. It was a beautiful day, and I thoroughly enjoyed walking around the ruins. From there it was a couple hour drive to Jerusalem. Our hotel is very centrally located, and we walked around for a while, soaking the city in.

Day four was the Big Daddy. We started at the Mount of Olives to get a full view of the Old City. Then it was on to the Garden of Gethsemane, the place where Jesus was betrayed and arrested. From there we went inside the Old City. Our first stop in the Old City was the Western Wall.

entrance to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
After the Western Wall, we made our way to the Via Dolorosa, the route Jesus carried the cross. We made our way to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the sight of the crucifiction and burial. Interesting note about the Church of the Holy Sepulchre: security for one of the most sacred sites in Christianity is handled by Muslims. The politics of this area are thick and complicated indeed. Walking the Old City was an amazing and emotional experience. I slept well last night.

That brings me to today. We started with a trip to the Church of Visitation, the place where a pregnant Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, and the birthplace of John the Baptist.

From there we went to Yad Vashem, the Holocaust Memorial. Talk about a moving experience. Our last stop in Jerusalem was the Israel Museum, where the Dead Sea Scrolls are housed.

hard to imagine peace with this kind of wall
Then things got really interesting. Our Israeli guide drove us to Bethlehem. The city of Bethlehem is under Palestinian control, and security is intense. Israel does not allow Jewish citizens to enter Bethlehem, so after going through the border, we were met by an Arab Christian who guided us to the Church of the Holy Nativity. This was the first time on the trip that I felt a little uneasy. Certainly one of the more memorable stops of the journey.

Tomorrow we go the Dead Sea, where I have every intention of doing some floating. I probably won't have a chance to write again until I get home. I'll do a final post then.

Time to crash.


  1. Looking forward to your next post when you get home.

  2. Whoa that is intense - that the Israeli gov't wont allow Jewish citizens to enter Bethlehem. What a tense place the Middle East is!

  3. That sounds like a fascinating trip no matter your religion. Have fun and stay safe...take lots of pictures!