Friday, September 29, 2023

2023 Israel/Egypt/Jordan - Day #3 - Jerusalem and Bethlehem

Jerusalem & Bethlehem

Visit the Cities of Jesus’s Birth, Death and Resurrection

On this in-depth excursion, witness the legacy of Jesus in two of Christianity’s most important cities.

After a scenic drive, make a photo stop atop Mt. Scopus, with its breathtaking panorama of the Old City. See the picturesque Gardens of Gethsemane with their Rock of Agony, and visit the impressive Church of All Nations and the Greek Orthodox Church of Maria. At Mt. Zion, you will see the stunning Dormition Abbey; the Last Supper room, where it is held that Jesus’s famous final meal took place; and the tomb of King David. Next, stop at the Church of St. Peter in Gallicantu, where Jesus is said to have been kept prisoner. Continue to Bethlehem for exterior views of the Church of the Nativity, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and an important place of pilgrimage for Christians. Then explore Shepherds’ Field, where the first announcement of Jesus’s birth was made.
Like the Seabourn cruise last year, I was up early. We finally connected with the Gainsleys at breakfast at 7 am.

A bus and a guide showed up at 8:30 am. There is a group of 14 that will be traveling together for the next three weeks.

The actual excursion was slightly different than the brochure. The first stop was the Mount of Olives. From there, we had a great view of Jerusalem. By code, all of the buildings in Jerusalem are built of local white limestone.

The guide (Yossi) did a nice job of explaining the history of the city. I didn't realize that according to Jewish and Christian tradition, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his son Isaac on Mount Moriah. This mountain is located in Jerusalem and is now part of the Temple Mount complex.

The next stop was the Church of All Nations. This church is built over the rock of agony where Jesus prayed in agony the night before he was crucified. The church is built in the Gardens of Gethsemane where Jesus went after the Last Supper.
The third stop included the Western (Wailing) Wall and the Temple Mount. The Western Wall all is the last remaining structure standing from the Second Jewish Temple which was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE. It is the holiest site in Judaism.

After the Western Wall, we explored the excavations of the Southern Wall of the Temple Mount. The Southern Wall of the Temple Mount is a retaining wall that was built by King Herod during his expansion of the Temple Mount platform southward on to the Ophel. It is 922 feet (281 m) long and is one of the most important archaeological sites in Jerusalem.

Back into the bus, we drove to Bethleham. I didn't realize that Bethleham is controlled by the Palestinian Authority. We were told to take our passports. We dropped our guide and went through an Israeli checkpoint. We had a group lunch at the Nissan Restaurant.

After lunch, we picked up a second guide and went to the Church of the Nativity. The church is divided into three sections: the Latin Church, the Greek Orthodox Church, and the Armenian Apostolic Church. Each church has its own altar and chapels. The center of the church is the Grotto of the Nativity, where Jesus is believed to have been born. Frankly, this surprised me; I didn't realize that there was a site celebrated as site of the birth of Jesus.
We were back to the hotel before 4:30 pm. Kevin, Donna, Sharon and I had a cocktail at the hotel bar. There a group three course dinner in the garden at the hotel: soup, salmon and dessert.

The four of us had an after dinner drink with Mark and Evelyn. Sharon and I crashed hard about 10:45 pm.

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