Friday, November 20, 2009

October 21-23 Mount of Temptation, Tomb of Lazarus, Old and New Jerusalem, Via Dolorosa, Church of the Holy Sepuchre, Wailing Wall, etc.etc...

Some of the places we visited from October 21-23: Jericho, the oldest inhabited city in the world; St. George's Monastery; Tomb of Lazarus in Bethany; Old and New City of Jerusalem; followed Via Dolorosa to the holiest shrine in Christendom, Church of the Holy Sepulchre; the tomb of Jesus; ; Western Wall (Wailing Wall), the most sacred place for the Jews; Mount of Olives, Garden of Gethsemane; Bethlehem; the birthplace of St. John the Baptist; Upper Room in Mt. Zion, site of the Last Supper; viewed the Dome of the Rock and the Mount of Temptation (where Jesus spent 40 days). I've never been on a tour before with so many famous places to see, so much information to digest, in so short a time!

A fruit stand in Jericho

This is a telephoto shot of the Mount of Temptation taken from the top floor of the resto where we had our lunch. We did not have time to ride the cable car to the top of the mountain.

One of the stations at Via Dolorosa. Our group took turns carrying the cross from one station to the next until we reached the Church of the Holy Sepulchre.

This is inside the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Old Jerusalem.

The Garden of Gethsemane

A street in Old Jerusalem in the early morning

Another street in Old Jerusalem taken just a bit after noontime

I just passed through the security checkpoint to the Western Wall (Wailing Wall) when I took this pic.
The Israeli guard let my Swiss pocket knife go after examining it; the US marine guarding the checkpoint at a USN destroyer open house in Seal Beach last year required me to leave the same knife with them before I was allowed to enter. I guess it is easier to sink a destroyer than to collapse a wall with a small knife LOL.

This section of the Wailing Wall is protected from the elements

This section is in the open

A small bakery in one of the streets in Jerusalem

A bread vendor in Old Jerusalem

Friday, November 13, 2009

October 20 Mt. Tabor, Mount of Beatitudes, Sea of Galilee, Tabgha and Jordan River

We had an early start this morning to beat the other tourists/pilgrims to the site of the Transfiguration of Jesus at Mt. Tabor. The place is not accessible by big busses because of the very narrow and winding road. We either have to transfer to small vans which shuttle people to the top or walk. We did not like the idea of walking so we sacrificed an hour of sleep to get there early. Unfortunately there were already a lot of people with the same idea so we had to wait our turn for the ride up to Mt. Tabor. Bummer!

At the waiting station, I saw this guy squeezing fresh pomegranate juice. I didn't get a chance to try it because our van was already loading up and I did not want to be left behind.

At the top, prior to visiting the church, our "messianic" guide thumbed through his bible to read to us passages relevant to the site. Frankly, I was already getting an overload of it.

From this church at Mt. Tabor we motored to the Mount of the Beatitudes where Jesus preached to His flock.

We had mass at the site of the Sermon on the Mount.

We went to this center before sailing the Sea of Galilee.

The pic on the left displays what is supposed to be a recovered part of the boat Jesus used and the one on the right is a model of the ancient boat.

We were on our way for a boat ride at the Sea of Galilee.

Some members of our group wanted to get a touch of the water of Galilee.

Tabigha, the site of the Miracles of the Loaves and Fishes. I don't really know much about this.

Capernaum, the town of Jesus

An old grinding stone at Capernaum

For those who wanted to have their baptism renewed, Father Wayne obliged them.

It is hard to see from the picture but there are large catfish swimming there! Click on the pic for a better view.

Finally to our hotel at the end of the day.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

Caesaria, Haifa, Megiddo, Nazareth, Cana and Tiberias

After a well-deserved rest at Tel Aviv, we drove to Haifa, stopping along the way to see Caesaria, the city built by King Herod. In Haifa, we went up Mt. Carmel, the home of prophets Elijah and Elisha, to visit Stella Maris Church. We visited the excavations at Megiddo before proceding to Nazareth where we had mass in the Church of the Annunciation and married couples in our group were invited to renew their marriage vows. We moved on to Cana of Galilee, where Jesus performed His first miracle of changing water into wine at a wedding feast. Finally to Tiberias for the night.

The tour bus that took us to the different places in Israel. It was big for a touring group of only 15 but I'm not complaining.

The enthusiastic, bible-quoting guide was telling us that the reason why these statues were without heads was because the ancient residents of Caesaria just mounted appropriate heads to make new statues. If I heard him right, this is a distant precursor to photoshop.

He is telling us important historical facts about the amphitheater none of which I can recall at the moment.

While the local guide was feeding us with more information about Caesaria, my attention was riveted to this solitary fisherman trying his luck at sea. What an incredible vacation it would have been for me, if I had the chance to fish the Mediterranean Sea and catch a big one. During all the time I was watching him he did not get a single bite but I bet he had a hell of a good time regardless.

A view of the port city of Haifa and the Mediterranean Sea (the sea is there if you can see through the haze) from a small lookout across the street from Stella Maris Church.

The ruins at Megiddo

Excavations at this site revealed a series of temples built on top of each other over a period of two thousand years.

On the way back to the bus, I ran into this tindahan selling these stuffs. I can only recognize peanuts from the lot.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

A trip to the Land of the Bible, October 2009

My wife and I just got back from a trip to Israel, Jordan and Egypt last night. It was a hectic 15 day land trip that left us tired and worn out. I guess we have been spoiled by taking many cruise trips of late or we are just getting too old LOL. On the other hand, even the younger members of our small group of 15 people complained about the tight and physically demanding itinerary. I'll share with you pictures I have taken during our trip in the course of many future postings. In the meantime here's a few for now.

We took an Air France flight from LAX to Tel Aviv, Israel with a 4 hours stopover in Paris. At the airport in Paris, the priest with our group held a Sunday mass...the first of many masses I attended. Ganito pala ang pilgrimage! I am not a religious person, I did not know what I was getting into when my wife cajoled me into joining her on this trip LOL. I wanted to go to South America instead! It turned out to be an OK trip for me. I was amazed at the religious devotion shown by all the members of our group and the people of all religious persuasions that I ran into in the different countries we visited.

I checked out the prices of booze in this tax-free airport shop and I was reminded that it was sometimes cheaper to buy them outside the airport with tax and all.

We ran into this kababayan who was on his way to Pinas for a two weeks vacation from his job at a cruise ship based in Europe.

Our hotel room in Tel Aviv was a let down from what we expected but, what the heck, we were just there for the night.

The view from our balcony was ok.