04 Apr Holy Lands
For Easter season, we’re going to focus on the Holy Land. There are few places on earth that have such appeal, such history, and such importance as the Holy Lands. Israel and the surrounding lands is, for Christians, Jews, and Muslims, a sacred place and a trip of a lifetime. We recommend that you go and experience a place like no other – first, though, a word about safety – you should travel in a pre-arranged tour (although it’s perfectly safe to travel alone) and check www.travel.state.gov for travel updates and, obviously, don’t travel to Gaza, and only go to the West Bank on a pre-arranged tour.
You will arrive in Tel Aviv after your overnight flight and should spend the day and the night in this city. Explore the Jaffa Gate and nearby cafes and relax in the late afternoon at the surprisingly nice beach (…most Americans don’t think of Israel as a beach destination). Overnight in Tel Aviv to rest up for the rest of your tour – Jerusalem.
The small, walled, car-free Old City is divided into Christian, Jewish, Armenian and Muslim quarters which you can easily move between and it’s easy to tell when you’re leaving one area and entering another – another factor making the city so fascinating. You will see many of the sites you’ve read about all your life in books and seen in religious paintings: the Wailing Wall, in the Jewish area; the Muslim Dome of the Rock built on top of it; and, in the Christian and Armenian areas, major sites you know from the Bible including the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, the Bethesda’s Pool, St Anne’s Church, as well as the convent of the Sisters of Zion. Most of these sites are easy to visit and walkable in a day. The tiny alleys and ancient cobbled streets of the Old City are full of pilgrims, many moved to tears and praying or singing in their native language but you will see the locals who live there too – sitting outside having coffee, caring for their infants, tending to their shops, selling souvenirs. It’s a busy, bustling, place all happening within feet of the most important and religious sites in human history.