Port was actually Ashdod, but Moti met us at the ship again, and we went to Jerusalem. The old city is beyond description. First stop an overlook and photo op. Then to the Mt of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, and the Church of All Nations. ... Read More
Port was actually Ashdod, but Moti met us at the ship again, and we went to Jerusalem. The old city is beyond description. First stop an overlook and photo op. Then to the Mt of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane, and the Church of All Nations. The garden is much smaller than I had imagined, and of couse it is smaller now than 2000 years ago.
We entered thru the Jaffe Gate, and sort of went backwards, starting at the Church of the Holy Seplechre, which is a conglomeration of churches, Greek Orthodox, the old Crusader church, Roman Catholic, and an Armenian ladder (it's a long story). A very long line waited to go into the tomb given to Christ by Joseph of Aramithea, but Moti pulled some strings, and we jumped the line - probably would have been murdered if it was not a church. Past by the stone where his body was prepared for burial, many very emotional people, sobbings, praying, etc. Saw where the cross may have been erected. We back-tracked the last five stations of the cross, and then went down the Via Delorosa which is now a market of seemingly never ending vendors, into the Muslim Quarter, turned onto Wadi St, and ate at a nice restaurant. Had hummus with pita bread, salads, and lots of water.
Continued to the open area near the Western (Wailing) wall. An amazing place to "people watch". Then, thru security and up a "temporary ramp" (the original collapsed, and the temporary is being used while they sift thru artifacts before rebuilding the main ramp) to the Temple Mount. We could not go in the al Asqua Mosque or the Dome of the Rock (Muslims only, although it changes from time to time), but we walked around the entire Mount, taking loads of pictures, of course.
Went out thru the Cotton market, back to the car. By this time of day, the dust in the air was getting bad - dust from sand storms in Eqypt of from the Negev, depending on whom you talked to.
Drove back past Bethlehem, but did not go into the city, because it is in Palestinian controlled territory, and israeli guides cannot take you in. We could have transferred to a Palestinian gude / taxi, but they require you to go on a "shopping opportunity", and we would have lost 1/2 a day total, so it was way too late for that.
We saw the famous walls / fences that Israel built to prevent terrorist attacks, and Moti pointed out that the settlemenbts in this area were built on land formerly owned by jordan until they foolishly joined in the attacks on Israel by most of the Arab nations. This land became part of israel, and was never Palestinian land when these settlements were built. So, they are not really settlements at all.
Took a different route back to Ashdod along the old Roman road, and thru the valley where the armies of the Philistines stood across from the Israelites, and only two warriors met to settle the war, in lieu of great losses on both sides. David, of course, bested Goliath in that contest. Read Less