11 Apr Holy Lands #2
While you will want to spend a full day touring the Old City’s sites and the next couple of afternoons attending religious services or simply wandering the ancient alleys, you will also want to explore outside the city walls. Spend a morning at the Mount of Olives and walk into the Kidron Valley and the Garden of Gethsemane (and perhaps visit the Church of All Nations); the next morning see the Israel Museum and Shrine of the Book, containing the Dead Sea Scrolls, and walk through vibrant orthodox Jewish neighborhoods or visit the Church of the Ascension on Mount Zion and the Pater Noster, the grotto which commemorates the Lord’s Prayer.
We recommend that you stay at the King David Hotel for the duration and do day trips from there. Yes, it’s expensive, but it’s worth it: safe, modern, the top service and amenities. Only if it is safe to do so, you should take a day tour to the Sea of Galilee and consider visiting Magdala (hometown of Mary Magdalene) as well as the Mount of Beatitudes where Jesus delivered the ‘Sermon on the Mount’ and the Wedding Church in Cana. Another day trip to consider, but again only if it is safe, is to take a tour into the Judean Wilderness or into the West Bank. You could explore Old Jericho seeing the Mount of Temptation and visit Visit Qasr-el-Yehud, the southern Baptism site on the River Jordan and At Qumran, see the caves where the Dead Sea Scrolls were discovered. You can then continue to Bethlehem, birthplace of Jesus Christ, visiting the Church of the Nativity. Return home via Tel Aviv or fly next door to Jordan (next week’s post).