Jerusalem (and Petra Jordan) – Trip Summary
For those of you who are following me on a regular basis, I run about a month late on my blog postings from the time I actually do my traveling. However, I keep my daily journal pretty up to date. I decided to publish a Trip Summary as a post so you can keep up to date on all my adventures.
Here is the Trip Summary for Jerusalem which was an amazing experience. I think everyone should visit Jerusalem at least once in your lifetime. It is the only place where three of the major religions come together as one. I see Jerusalem as the city of unity where Jews, Christians and Muslims live in peace together. The issues you might hear about are not present with the people of Jerusalem.
Saturday, June 25th – A big day seeing the sites of Jesus (Nazareth, Sea of Galilee, Jordan River and Capernaum)
- A very interesting day tracing Jesus’s life from his childhood (after returning from Egypt) to the town where he met St Peter and the spot where John the Baptist baptized Jesus.
- In Nazareth, visited the Church of the Annunciation where Mary received the message from God that she would give birth to Jesus. Also, visited the Church of St Joseph and saw where Jesus and Joseph worked as carpenters.
- Went to the Jordan River at the exact spot where Jesus was baptized. While I just put my feet in the water, people can also be baptized there.
- Visited Capernaum which is where Jesus preached after leaving Nazareth.
Church of the Annunciation in Nazareth
Friday, June 24th – Toured the Old City of Jerusalem
- Although, I had been to some of the places on my own, the all day tour really was a great education about stories from the Bible. Seeing the sites of Jerusalem and outside the city as well, really makes the bible come alive. Here are some of the interesting places that I visited on this day.
- The Last Supper room
- Kind David’s Tomb (which is actually right below the Last Supper room).
- The Church of the Holy Sepulchre (where Christ was crucified). Touched the spot where he died.
- Western Wall (can never go there too often)
- Gardens of Gethsemane where Jesus often prayed
- Chapel of the Ascension where it is said Jesus ascended to heaven
- Jewish Quarter
- Christian Quarter
- Muslim Quarter
- Finally, the 12 points of the cross. There are twelve stations that are significant when Jesus walked through Jerusalem with the cross.
Thursday, June 23rd – The Lost City of Petra
- This was the day I had been looking forward to for many years. Woke up to a stunning view of the mountains which inside them, contain the city of Petra.
- Carved out of the sandstone rock, this ancient trading post town built by the local tribes became the capital of the region. The entire city is carved into the mountains creating some amazing facades that look like Greek buildings. The Romans took over the town but after the town had peaked. Not an easy town to capture because of the natural barrier the mountains created. A small path weaves in between two very high mountains for about a mile.
- Climbed the 1600 steps through a path carved in the sandstone mountain to the monastery which was well worth the exhausting 3 hour hike.
Wednesday, June 22nd – Explored Jordan including Amman and Jaresh (and Petra bound)
- Crossed the Jordanian border on my way to Petra. Since Petra is quite far from Jerusalem and border crossings are challenged, I went on a two-day tour that included other parts of Jordan.
- First, I visited an ancient Roman town called Jaresh (about 30 minutes from the Syrian border..yikes!!!). But all was good. A very well-preserved Roman city which really gave you a great feel of how the Romans lived during that time. Many structures still intact.
- Then off to see the big city of Amman. A very crowded city and not too much to see.
- Off for another 3 hour drive south to Petra.
Tuesday, June 21st – Trip to Masada and the Dead Sea
- Started the day with a trip to the very interesting city of Masada. High atop a mountain, Roman emperor Herod built a three level castle on the side of the mountain and a small city to support the castle around it. He originally built it to protect his family but after killing many of them, he lived there alone. The other use for this was in 70 AD when the Romans came in and destroyed Jerusalem. About 1000 Jews left Jerusalem for Masada thinking it would protect them. After the Romans found them (and knowing the Romans would kill them), all but two committed suicide.
- Next was an adventure down to the Dead Sea. In 47c (or 115f) temperatures, I spent about 90 minutes floating in the Dead Sea. Because there is so much salt in the water (about 30% salt content), the only thing you can do is float. It is near impossible to sink at all. In addition to floating, I grabbed mud from the bottom and smeared it all over my body. It is like a free spa treatment.
Monday June 20th – Trip to Bethlehem, Jericho, and the Church of the Holy Sepulchre
- Started the day in Bethlehem visiting the birthplace of Jesus. First, I visited the holy spot where the shepherds lived. They were the ones who received a message from God saying the Messiah has been born.
- Visited the Church of the Nativity where you can enter the caves where Mary and Joseph lived and the Manger (the exact spot) where Jesus was born. The spot is marked with the Star of the Nativity.
- I visited the cave where Mary nursed Jesus before being forced to escape to Egypt
- Visited Jericho which is important for two reasons. First, it is the oldest city in the world. More than 11,000 years old. It is also the lowest city in the world (1400 feet below sea level). Second, Jesus spent some time there while he was making his trek to Jerusalem.
- In the evening, I went to the Church of the Holy Sepulchre (the site of the crucifixion of Jesus for those of you not quite up to speed on the Bible) on my own just to check it out. To my surprise the church was somewhat empty (which is rare). I was able to enter the Holy Tomb and pray on the tomb of Jesus (alongside the nuns – only three people at a time are allowed in the tomb).
Sunday, June 19th – Traveling to Jerusalem (and viewing the Western Wall for the first time)
- I arrived in Tel Aviv to a modern and very safe airport. I know there is quite a lot of fear around traveling to the Middle East and specifically Israel, but it appears to me to be a very safe country. Security is high and police presence is visible and plentiful, but that adds to, not takes away from the safety.
- Staying at the King David Hotel, the most historical and prestigious hotel Jerusalem. It is the hotel for heads of state, celebrities and kings (oh yes and me too…haha).
- After checking in, I went immediately to the Old City of Jerusalem which is very close to the hotel. Walked through the narrow streets of the city with vendors lining every inch of the popular streets.
- Stumbled upon the Western Wall (also known as the Wailing Wall). This is the most sacred place for Jews. The Western Wall is actually the old retaining wall of the Second Temple (which is all that is left after the Romans destroyed it in 70 AD). Behind the Western Wall is actually what the Jews are praying to, which is the Rock that is contained in the Dome of the Rock which is the holiest spot in the world and is said to represent all of creation. Kind of powerful!!!