On our way to Jerusalem we made two stops at the river Jordan. The Yardenit and Qasr al-Yahud traditional baptismal sites. To think that in this spot or at least near this spot, John the Baptist, baptized Jesus was remarkable. To see the Pilgrimage of people, line up to receive this sacrament was amazing/ All, races, religions, genders and ages, came together to accept and renew their Christian faith this was awe inspiring especially as across the river in Jordan stood solders with guns protecting their country. A couple from our group were baptized and witnessing this left us all very reflective of this holy site.
A second stop on the way was the wailing wall. I had heard stories of the wonderful site but hearing the people praise the lord, shed tears of joy and sadness was beyond my imagination. We did take a moment to put our special prayers in the wall and spent a moment reflecting on the immense amount of prayers that passed through these cracks and nooks. That many believers in one area was a site I will never forget.
We then travel on to Jerusalem, where we stayed at the Leonardo Plaza Hotel, a very nice hotel very near the old town. That evening we went in the old town and watched an outdoor Night Spectacular at the tower of David. A light show, that is shown on the walls of the Citadel in the old city, it was a beautiful way to watch to story of Jerusalem through the ages.
The next day we toured the old city and the city of David. Walking the street of Jerusalem, seeing where Jesus entered the city on Palm Sunday, visiting the spot of the crucifixion was in itself a spiritually moving moment and really brought all the stories from the Bible to life, but what impacted me most was again the number of faithful people there just to see the stones, and feel the sacredness of the surroundings. It showed me that no matter what corner of the world you live in we are all connected.
That afternoon we switched gears and experience a food tour, tasting the street food of Israel at the Manchane Yehuda Market which was very interesting. We finished the day on a Segway tour to the top of hill where we could look down on the city. After dinner we had a nightlife tour in that same market, having cocktails and listening to music, it really showed us that the there is something for everyone and every age in this beautiful Country. Next, some final thoughts.
After a night in Nazareth we departed for Galilee. Before arriving, we visited a Kibbutz, the Kibbutz Lavi. Not being Jewish, I had no idea what a Kibbutz was. I was surprised to find out it is a community where you live, and work as one family. This one has about 620 members that work and live there. They have a very nice hotel that anyone can stay at and is very reasonable. They are self-sufficient from providing everything one needs from newborn to the end of life. We were given a tour of this amazing community and hotel before we got on our way to Galilee.
Galilee was probably the most life changing for me and my husband. We visited many religious sites from the bible, the Mount of Beatitudes, were Jesus gave his sermon on the Mount. Tabgha, the traditional site of the Multiplication of the loaves and fishes, Capernaum where Jesus began his Ministry and we visited an excavation of the house of Peter. To see these places of the bible brought special meaning to us both as were raised on these stories. Before ending in Tiberius where we were to stay for the night, we stop at another Kibbutz to see the restored remains of a 1st century Wooden sailing vessel from the time of Jesus and how it was retrieved from the Sea of Galilee we also stopped at Magdala, the home of Mary Magdalene.
Our hotel in Tiberius was amazing, it was the Scots Hotel, it was established by the Church of Scotland in 2004 in the historical compound of the Scottish Hospital. It is now an amazing 4-star hotel that overlooks the Sea of Galilee, when we got there, we were greeted by very friendly staff and shot of whiskey. I would recommend this hotel to anyone visiting this area.
The next day was one I was so excited for. We were blessed to go on a cruise on the Sea of Galilee in a replica of a wooden sailing boat from the time of Jesus. Because of the wind we were almost not able to do this, but as if God new how much we all wanted to experience this, the winds died down and we were able to board the boat. As we set out on the water, a lady with a beautiful voice began to sing, the Sea gulls flock around us and our guide, a Pastor, began to read the story of how Jesus walked on this very water. Tears came to my eyes as ever being able to experience this holy place was beyond my imagination. Seeing the size of this body of water, my husband wondered if his faith would have been strong enough to listen to Jesus and step out of the boat, if asked. It was a marvelous excursion that gave us a feeling that words cannot express. To know that this is an something that I can offer my clients is one reason I love being a travel consultant. Our next stop Jerusalem.
Next we toured the ancient seaport of Jaffa. Our tour guide, a resident of Jerusalem, showed us through the Archaeological site, the fisherman’s port and the artists quarter in this renovated old city. This is where the story of Jonah and the Whale was situated, it is a nice afternoon excursion. On our way to Nazareth we were able to stop and visit Caesarea National Park, a magnificent site, a national park in Israel. Caesarea is originally an ancient Herodian port city located on Israel’s Mediterranean Coast about halfway between Tel Aviv and Haifa. We also visited Mount Precipice which is part of the Jesus Trail Pilgrimage route a walking trail where you can walk in the footsteps of Jesus it is a 40-mile marked trail, from Nazareth to Capernaum. Once in Nazareth we visited many churches, the Basilica of the Annunciation. Which is a beautiful church that is situated over the cave that tradition holds to be the home of the Virgin Mary. Here, it is believed, the archangel Gabriel told the young Mary, aged about 14, that she would become the mother of the Son of God. And here Mary uttered her consent: “Let it be done to me according to your word.”
We also visited The Synagogue Church, the traditional site of the synagogue in which Jesus read from the scriptures and the Greek Orthodox Church of the Annunciation, there really is something for every religion. We then visited some guest houses that are quaint places to stay and the Nazareth Village, a first century village depicting the life of Jesus.
We arrived at our hotel, The Golden Crown Hotel, for a one-night stay. The next stop will be Galilee.
As we are in the holiday season, I feel it is pertinent to write about the land of Jesus. It has been 1 year since our return, but the experience was so impacting I didn’t want to miss telling you about this wonderful destination. No matter what religion you are, there is something for everyone.
We landed in Tel Aviv, a modern, active city with beautiful beaches, dotted with board and wind surfers. Even in though there was a slight chill in air, with the strong wind the activity on water was wonderful to watch from the beach.
We were greeted as we got off the plane by a young man that helped us through the country’s entry procedures and then driven to The Hilton Tel Aviv which is a luxurious hotel. This is a service that can be arranged for our clients. It streamlines everything and lets you get started on your journey with no stress. The Hilton is a beautiful hotel, we were greeted with fruit and chocolates, a bottle of wine. There is a beautiful pool, a balcony off the restaurant that allowed you to watch the waves come on shore while you ate. A beach access that allowed you to enjoy the Mediterranean Sea and beautiful sunsets.
This vibrant town is relatively new, as it was founded in 1909. We learned exploring the new independence trail that goes down the middle of the city. Besides it’s beautiful beaches it is full of Restaurants, shopping, activities and nightlife. Rothschild boulevard is a mainstream of activity as night falls. We visited Allenby Market, and sampled a unique array of culinary experiences. The night comes alive around 9:00 pm and is full of music, dancing, great food and drink and watching the talent of Belly dancing. As Americans is was fun to see they are obsessed with Hamburgers. There are new hamburger stands popping up everything. This town is a very youthful town that thrives on Good food, Good times and Good people. Next up Jaffa and Nazareth.
Last December we were returning from another adventure and learned many wonderful options for our clients. We visited Israel a historical and amazing land and country. Everyone sees this amazing land with very different eyes and since we were there with other agents from all over the world. Different ages, genders and religions, we were able to see it through many different eyes.
Since then we were blessed to visit, the Caribbean aboard a wonderful Royal Caribbean ship. We also were able to visit Munich Germany as well as some wonderful Bavarian villages, to end that trip we travel by train to Italy and spent 10 days visiting the land of my ancestors and had a short stop in Windsor England.
2018 was a wonderful year and as I catch up on my blogging please watch for articles to come describing each of these destinations, new resorts and wonderful excursions that will give you some in site to traveling in these areas and hopefully will give you the desire to travel yourself.